Overcoming the Odds

B.J., a Brattleboro resident, has overcome incredible setbacks and challenges in his life.  Spending most of his childhood and early adulthood in institutional settings, B.J. met Pathways Vermont at a crossroads in his life.  Now, he has taken control of his own narrative, ended a cycle of trauma and is creating a life of his own, as a valued member of his community.

“I was born in Newport, Vermont…we moved around a lot. When I was five, my father went to jail. After that moment, I don’t remember much of my childhood.  A switch flipped in me. 

I was five years old the first time I was ever in a psych ward.  All the schooling I’ve ever done has been in residential treatments. I did do mainstream junior high school a couple of times, but it didn’t work out because I needed more hands-on experience. So at 16, I was in and out of psych wards, treatment homes, and group homes.  I ended up living on the streets because every foster home I went to, I felt they didn’t care about my wellbeing.

I started drinking very young. I found LSD and ecstasy at 17 years old. I’ve been six-foot since I was 10 years old. Some people had perceived me as an adult when I was a child, so I could walk into bars. I did cocaine and crack when I moved to Brattleboro, when I was about 19, someone taught me how to smoke it. 

I lived with my dad from 19 to 20.  Living with my dad was nice, but the wife that he had really didn’t like me. So then I moved out and technically I’ve been homeless ever since.”

During this time, B.J. found himself committing petty crimes in order to survive. He was eventually picked up by the police and ended up incarcerated. While there, awaiting release due to lack of housing, He met with Pathways Vermont’s Intake Coordinator to begin the process of finding a new home in the community along with a dedicated support time. He received a call every day while in prison from someone on his team, supporting him through his transition.

Now, four years after his release, B.J. has a new lease on life.  Sitting in his well kept and proudly maintained apartment, he reflected on his life and how Pathways Vermont has helped him make big changes.

“Pathways Vermont has been nothing but exemplary. They’ve been there 100% and a huge support for me. I don’t know what I would have done if it wasn’t for Pathways, Not just because they bring me to get my food twice a week, but because the support from everybody has been unbelievably good. I’ve been in residential treatments all my life and I haven’t ever met anybody who works in the field like this. I really feel that they care.”

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