Today, Richard has a job and a place to live, and gets to spend time playing with his 12-year-old son in Willye B. White Park on Howard Street.

But for over a decade, he had some very dark times in and out of prison suffering from a heroin addiction. He burglarized houses and sold drugs to survive. At the time, it seemed like the only way to get through life. His mother was addicted to drugs neglected him.

“I was bright. I finished school. But I didn’t want to be in that house, so I went outside [to the streets],” he said. After years through the revolving door of incarceration his responsibilities suddenly changed. He was told he had a son in foster care– Tyrick. The drive to protect his son re-energized him to pursue a better life. He would get clean for his son. After being released from Sheridan Correctional Center in March, he worked with Lindsey Wade at the HACC Employment Resource Center to apply to jobs, network, and make a resume. “I’ve got a lot of people in my corner…so I’m trying to utilize all of the resources I have. I didn’t do that at first,” Richard said.

Come July 2016, Richard beat the odds. After applying to countless jobs, he was offered a position as a janitor at Ravenswood Studio, Inc., a company that builds sets for plays and museum exhibits. Now, he is completing court-mandated classes on drug addiction and parenting with the hopes of gaining custody of Tyrick.

Richard wants to save enough money to rent an apartment in Rogers Park. “We made it so he didn’t have to suffer to get a job like he would have in the past,” Lindsey said, noting that it’s difficult for people with a criminal record and a history of trauma. “People are always reachable.”

Written and photographed by Rachel Hoffman