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I first came to CitiWide 15 years ago. My heroin use brought me here. I got into the groups here—HIV and overdose prevention. I volunteered here, cleaning up after dinner. Then I heard about Herizen, the group here for women and transgender women. I finally took my first HIV and hepatitis C tests and tested negative. Then I did a CitiWide peer internship working with drug users in the S.R.O. hotels three days a week. We’d distribute clean syringes, condoms and toiletries, then John Gargan, a nurse practitioner, would see them for a check-up.
My fiancé and I are homeless. We live in my motherin- law’s station wagon, or sometimes with her, or with my mother. CitiWide’s helping me get my medical papers together to try to get an apartment. Citiwide is a safe haven for those of us in the streets. You get meals, a shower, mental health services, groups, acupuncture.
I’ve been off heroin for five months. But I’ve gotten urges. People here have been very supportive of my recovery. They meet you where you’re at, and they work with you. Now I’m setting an example here, with my peer internship, which I get a stipend for. I’m here almost every day. People will ask, “Juanita, can you escort this person to the hospital?” It makes me feel good. They know I never say no! I feel like a part of this place and I look forward to coming here.
I hope to be alive, clean and a case manager at CitiWide or somewhere like here. I want enough money to buy a little tenement building for young single parents raising their kids. I’d charge them reasonable rent. I have three sons and four grandkids myself.
Participants on this website gave written consent to being depicted and quoted here. No inference should be drawn regarding the medical condition or HIV status of any individuals shown, named or quoted in this publication.