Pablo’s Story

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My childhood was difficult; I didn’t have a stable home.  At 12 I was “adopted” by a gang.  I was a lookout, and in return I was fed and always had a place to sleep.  I never finished school, but I earned my GED while I was in prison.  I turned my back on gangs and drugs after I was released.  Instead, I was able to give back to my community by becoming an HIV counselor.  I worked with HIV positive people at a time when they had no treatment options.  As painful as it was to see people suffering with illness, I knew my pain didn’t compare to theirs.

I had married, but I never dealt with my demons, and alcohol got the best of me.  After several years of counseling I could no longer control myself, and the life I was working to create fell apart.  I just couldn’t cope with my addiction.

I don’t recall much from that period of my life, but I found myself at the Allentown Rescue Mission, and I found the Holy Spirit.  I found the strength to stop drinking, and I found purpose.

I work full-time for the Clean Team.  I spend my days cleaning the streets in Allentown, and I love doing it!  I talk to the homeless every chance I get, and I encourage them to seek help at the Mission.  I tell my story.  I want them to know that I understand their situations.  I was in their shoes, and I wasn’t able to reach a better place without help.

I think about my grandchildren every day.  I try to do right by God every day.  I live with other Clean Team members, and we support each other.  We give each other strength.  Many of the Clean Team men move on to other jobs, but at 62 I am one of the older guys.  The Clean Team program has allowed me to support myself as I age, and more importantly, it allows me to make a contribution.  I don’t know where I would be without the Mission and the Clean Team.

If you see me downtown I would love to talk to you.  I’ll be wearing a blue shirt and a smile.