Juan Cruz once lived the life of a gangbanger on the streets of Chicago. The money was good, but he constantly worried about the safety of his family. Eventually, his bubble burst and he ended up in prison.
Cruz served out the final months of his sentence as a resident at Safer Foundation’s North Lawndale Adult Transition Center, where he participated in a work-release program. As part of this initiative, he also worked to further his education.
“I was in school there,” Cruz said. “I took my GED and passed the test my first time. I was one of the highest scores in my class. I also got about eight certificates working with Safer Foundation.”
In order to accomplish this while he was at North Lawndale, Cruz had to go through an attitude adjustment.
“When I got to North Lawndale, I still had a hard head,” he said. “But they made me realize that they were there to help me. And I took that chance to get help. They put me into school. At first i didn’t want to go to school, but they made me. I took it for what it was worth and did what I was supposed to do.”
As he looks back on everything, Cruz is grateful for everything he’s been able to achieve.
“Safer Foundation helped me figure out that the fast life isn’t always what it seems,” he said. “They helped me out a lot. They made me realize that this is a better life for me right now.”
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