It has been 12 years, 7 months, and 23 days since Alvin Martinez first got sober in Ready, Willing & Able. Today, he works as an educator on The Doe Fund’s Workforce Development team. He thinks of each day that he stays clean as a milestone — a celebration of his new life.
As a kid, Alvin’s life seemed normal. His parents ran a small business — a bar in Brooklyn — that kept their family in good shape. But a year after Alvin enrolled in college, he learned that his family’s bar was a cover for an illegal businesses. His father was sent to prison, and Alvin dropped out of school to support his mother and young sister.
“In less than a year, my life was ruined. I went from a straight-A college student to a hopeless addict behind a bar,” says Alvin.
For 30 years, Alvin became caught in a cycle of addiction, homelessness, and prison. “My addiction consumed my life. The business fell apart, so I started stealing and selling drugs to get high,” said Alvin. “As the years passed, I felt powerless… worthless. My life had no purpose.”
By 2007, Alvin was pushing 50 years old and back in rehab. He knew that this time, something had to change. When he was released from rehab, instead of hitting the streets or looking to get high, he came to Ready, Willing & Able.
“When I put on my bright blue uniform to clean the streets with my fellow Men in Blue, I felt that change happening. I felt hope and purpose pumping through my veins and pushing me forward,” he said.
After a year of hard work in Ready, Willing & Able, Alvin was a new man. He had his sobriety, a Commercial Driver License, a work history, and a full-time job as a truck driver. He held down an apartment and paid his rent on time. After four years behind the wheel, he decided he was ready to pursue his higher calling: He wanted to help people like him.
For the second time, The Doe Fund welcomed Alvin “home” — this time as an employee. Today, he’s an Educational Assistant at The Doe Fund and a chaplain in his community. Every day, Alvin works with men with histories of addiction, homelessness, and incarceration who are in recovery. He helps guide them as they work tirelessly to change their lives — just like Alvin did.
“I am living proof that, no matter how hopeless you feel, it’s never too late to change,” Alvin said. “Every day is a gift — and each moment that I live as a productive member of my community, as a law abiding citizen and role model in this program, is a treasure.”