Campus of Change

Ending Homelessness in the Fox Valley

Ricky: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Learning Accountability

Posted on Jun 9, 2014 by

“I didn’t know anything different or better,” explains Ricky* when speaking of his past. Ricky watched his father deal drugs starting at a young age, and Ricky eventually took over for his father. He thought it was an easy way to make money and an easy way to support his own drug addiction.

He was eventually arrested and went to jail before being released to the Mooring House to help him deal with his drug addiction.

He came to COTS when he was 21 years old because he “needed a place to stay and support.” At first, Ricky struggled to adjust to his new life at COTS. “I didn’t initially take it seriously,” he remembers. “I didn’t want to change behaviors.”

After a while, Ricky began feeling secluded and depressed. “I knew something needed to change,” he explains. Ricky then started taking the steps he needed to make in order to truly transform himself.

One of those steps was returning to his previous employer, STEP Industries, a company that employs individuals recovering from addiction. “STEP gave me a place to be around people who’ve worked at recovery,” Ricky explains.

At COTS, he began opening up with staff and the other residents. “Staff gave [him] the opportunity to talk about things.” He began applying the lessons he learned during the life skills classes at COTS, such as maintaining a weekly and monthly budget, which, “forced [him] to look at [his] spending habits.”

In February, after two years at COTS, Ricky moved into his own house with roommates. He is now in the COTS Aftercare Program, which supports former COTS residents for two years after they move out. Ricky also credits COTS and STEP Industries with giving him the emotional supports he needed to succeed.

Ricky continues to work at STEP full-time as a Project Lead. “I used to be very passive,” he explains. “Now I have to be the leader.” In the future, he would like to attend college so that he can become an inventor of culinary tools.

*Name has been changed to protect his privacy