By Gregory Parker

I became homeless at the age of 16, because by then I was addicted to drugs and that lead to a problem of stealing.

At the age of 16, my mom, after realizing I was addicted to drugs and she could no longer handle me, finally kicked me out of the house.

From there on I wandered around, like a “nomad”, I stayed in various places, like with people who I thought were my friends. I stayed in shelters, I slept outside, in parks weather permitting, I slept in staircases and hallways.

I panhandled for money to buy food, to support my drug habit.

It was a pretty unbearable way of life I was stuck in. A dreadful way to exist.

After several years of living under those circumstances I finally took two steps back, examined the whole big picture, saw the part I played in becoming homeless.

This journey began when I had surrounded and acquainted myself with older people who experimented with different drugs.

I looked upon these people as father- and uncle figures, they embraced me, allowed me to open up without judging me.

The first drug I tried was weed. At the beginning smoking weed was a social thing, it always had us talking and laughing, it made me feel good.

My friends and I would meet up in each other’s houses taking turns in providing drugs.

Eventually I became selfish and started to isolate from my peers, I wanted to self-indulge to the point where those drug had no longer an effect on me.

I decided to try heroine together with one of my favorite cousins.

I did not like it. It was a down, high and one sniff drained from the nose into the mouth. The taste was unbearable. Fifteen minutes after sniffing heroine it made me nod off to the point where I could not keep my eyes open and the feeling of vomiting was intense.

From here on I realized heroine was not for me.

I decided to try pills, like Percocet. They made me feel good, I liked it and I became addicted to it.

The problem was, it was an expensive habit to maintain with also balancing my life on a daily basis.

I did not have money to pay for my habit. So I went to visit my mom, knowing she had some money also exactly where she kept it.

I sparked up a conversation with her about the community to disguise the real reason I come to see her. She went into the bathroom, I went into her closet were she kept her money and took $200.00 out. Money she needed to pay her bills.

I sat back down, she did not sense a thing.

I felt bad, but I had to support my drug habit.

As I was leaving I gave my mom a hug and a kiss telling her I will see her later.

A week later my sister came to see me, while she was on the phone and in the other room I went into her pocketbook and again took money out.

After that incident, my family realized what I was doing, they ostracized me from my whole family and I was kicked out of the house, that’s when I became homeless.

By the time when I was 22 with the help of a friend I entered the Trenton drug treatment center. I knew then I needed help.

I was in treatment for six month, I was clean and graduated from there.

The next phase was, me entering the rescue mission in Trenton.

I was there for one year and seven month. Because of my daily commitment to better- and educate myself, I was assigned an apartment.

During that whole period I kept going to Task to further my education.

Gregory Parker is a student in the TASK Adult Education Program

Gregory Parker is a student in the TASK Adult Education Program

TASK became like a second home for me, everyone there makes you feel welcome, friends and teachers are encouraging and giving hope.