Surviving the Storms
Reggie Cintron has been a member of the Project HOME community for almost six years. He shared his life story at a recent fund-raising benefit hosted by Wolverton & Company. He is a gentle and caring soul, and contributes in many ways to our work and mission.
My name is Reginald Cintron. I am a native of the city of Philadelphia. I was born here and lived here all my life. I come from a poor dysfunctional family and was in and out of foster homes; however, I managed to graduate from Benjamin Franklin High School. Soon after my father passed away, my mother left home to take care of her sister who was very ill. So she turned the house over to me. I am the oldest of three siblings – I have a sister and a brother. My brother moved out to stay with his girlfriend who just had his baby boy, and my sister was pregnant and decided to move out and stay with her boyfriend.
Therefore I had the responsibility of managing the house by myself. I worked various jobs to finish paying the mortgage on the house. Around this time in my life, I started to hang out in the bars and drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes to relieve the stress, and later on I started using drugs such as crack cocaine. I was unable to keep a job because of my substance abuse. Soon I was not thinking clearly and got myself caught up with the wrong people.
This led to my making wrong decisions. My drug addiction progressed, and soon I was selling drugs out of my house. This resulted in jail time, and I lost my house and almost lost my life. One evening, I was shot twice by drug dealers during a robbery attempt. This critical moment in my life had a tremendous affect on my mental state. I knew something was wrong with me because I had thoughts on just giving up on my life. However I started to think about my childhood days when my grandmother would take me to church with her. Back then, I had been taught to pray to God. At that moment, as an adult in desperate trouble, I did just that: I got down on my knees and started praying to God, asking him to forgive me for the wrong things I did and save me from this dreadful situation.
Before my third incarceration, God answered my prayer. During this time I was homeless, living on the streets and in crack houses. I did not like the shelters, but occasionally I had to stay there just to use their address. One day I started to reach out and seek help for my depression. I went to the hospital, where they gave me a referral, and I managed to get on welfare and receive health benefits as well. I used the referral to see a therapist who was in her internship at Girard Medical Center. I explained to her what I was going through, and she suggested that I enter myself into a rehabilitation facility for my drug and alcohol addiction and get treatment for my depression. I followed her instructions. I vividly recall on my second visit, she told me about Project HOME and said would help me get into their St. Elizabeth’s recovery house for men after I completed the in-patient rehabilitation program. Sure enough, after I successfully completed my stay at the rehab, I was discharged to St. Elizabeth’s recovery house for homeless men. I rejoice and thank God for this exciting moment in my life, because I knew this is where my recovery journey would start.
However, I had to go through another storm: I received a bench warrant for not appearing in court. Somehow, my message to the probation office did not reach the court system about my being in the rehab, and I was arrested after two weeks at St. E’s. I later found out that I had a new probation officer who did not know anything about me. I did 10 months up on State Road. I kept in contact with the St. Elizabeth staff about my recovery plans to return. I stayed busy in the prison and worked two jobs, attended typing classes, and went to church services every evening, which started my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
After my discharge, Project HOME received me with open arms, another wonderful moment in my recovery journey. Project HOME provided me with an abundance of services, such as case management, peer leadership, and addiction counseling. I also participated in educational opportunities and the workforce development program at Project HOME’s Honickman Learning Center Comcast Technology Labs. I was even able to take advantage of St. E’s Medical Clinic (which provides services regardless of insurance) and Project HOME’s Advocacy and Public Policy department, which works to change policies that have an affect on homelessness and poverty.
Most importantly of all, Project HOME gave me employment through their Employment Services department. I utilize these services, and currently I have a part-time job in the Development Department as an office clerk. Moreover, I was recently hired as a part-time support staff person at one of the residential sites. I also volunteer by helping set up the auditorium for meetings and trainings at the Honickman Center. I have a third part-time job as a Certified Peer Specialist, which is a specially trained position in which I act as a role model for persons in recovery and for staff. I assist program participants in identifying their abilities and strengths, and teach them how to utilize personal assets for advancing in their own recovery process; through it all, I am willing to share my own recovery experience (while being aware that each person’s road to recovery is unique).
This is one of my ways of giving back what was given to me during my early journey in my recovery process. With the stability in life that Project HOME provided me, I have become a member of my church choir, through which I promote the gospel in the music ministry. I’m single and a father of three children who are now adults, and I have three grandchildren. I will soon be moving to Connelly House, a collaboration between Project HOME and Bethesda Project, which will welcome 79 formerly homeless men and women into new permanent supportive homes at 12th and Ludlow Streets in Center City. I’m grateful for what Project HOME has done for me.
Today, I know there are great things in store for my future. I would like to give thanks to all my case managers, support staff, my peers, coworkers, and friends who were there for me during my times of crisis. I also like to give special thanks to our co founders of Project HOME, Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon, for their hard work to end homelessness and poverty and to enhance the quality of life for everyone in our communities and in the city of Philadelphia. GOD BLESS!