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YOUTH PEER SUPPORT SPECIALIST | CLACKAMAS COUNTY

 

Eddie lived in Texas with his mother and father when he was young but has spent most of his life in Oregon. As a child, Eddie witnessed a lot of domestic violence, gang, and other criminal activity. Eddie's father would often come home late, waking him and his brothers up with the strong odor of alcohol. His dad would then wake his mother and force her to make him food or to drive him to get food. If she resisted, he would threaten to burn green card, get violent, and start punching walls. Most of the time, when things would get physical, it would be right in front of Eddie and his brothers, and often his dad would resort to forcing his oldest son to drive him where he wanted to go.

On one of the worst days Eddie has ever experienced, his mother noticed that his father had come home with lipstick marks on his shirt. His dad got mad and became violent. He burnt Eddie's mother's green card and flushed the remaining pieces down the toilet. His mother called the police, and his father was arrested and later released. Eddie's mother asked for a divorce, before taking the kids to Oregon where they could live with her side the family.

When they got to Oregon, they settled in an area of Hillsboro that was known for gang activity. Eddie's older brother got into gangs, was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison. When his family returned to their apartment after his sentencing, they had been issued a twenty-four-hour eviction notice citing that his brother was considered a danger to the community. His family didn't have any room for them to stay, and they had nowhere else to go. His mom rented a U-haul for them to sleep in and found a local gym they could use to shower until they could get approved for an apartment.

Eddie eventually followed in his brother's footsteps; hanging out with gang members, getting suspended, into fights, and ultimately incarcerated. While incarcerated, Eddie realized where his life was going to go if he didn't make a change for himself. His first step in turning his life around was leaving behind the "friends" who were negative influences. Next, he found a job where he made new healthy relationships and learned some good healthy habits. He joined a basketball league to keep himself busy and motivated to try new things. Getting a gym membership turned out to be hugely beneficial; it provided him with a positive outlet that he could turn to when he was feeling down or needed something to do.

While searching for a new job, Eddie came across Youth Era and found that it was just what he'd been wanting; a position where he could work with youth who are struggling with the same things he once did. Now, as a part of the Youth Era team, Eddie is excited to make a difference by being a support system for youth, helping them avoid the mistakes he made, and encouraging them to make better choices.

Now, Eddie lives with his girlfriend and son. When he found out that his girlfriend was pregnant, he realized that his life wasn't just about him anymore and that supporting his family had to be his main priority. He still plays in a basketball league and uses the gym as a form of support. On the weekends his family goes on hikes, ride bikes, shopping trips, and travels all around Oregon, but their favorite thing to do is when they get to have movie nights at home with their son.