Sammy: Bravery Means Never Giving Up
I was born in Puerto Rico and grew up living with my dad. When I was fourteen he took me with him to Massachusetts. I didn’t know any English. After about a year he got arrested and I was put in foster care and went from home to home. I learned about More Than Words when I was 16 and living in a group home.
At the time, MTW was just starting up in a little office in Waltham. I was one of the youth who helped open our first store on Moody Street. I learned efficiency, punctuality, and how to be professional. I learned how to work. I felt like I was really part of something—a feeling I’d never felt before. I really mattered. MTW really pushed me to get out of the streets, take school seriously, and make better choices.
I graduated from More Than Words and High School. I went straight to college, getting my associates degree at Salem State and then my bachelors at Springfield College. But despite all my success and positive choices, I landed in prison after one moment of not thinking right. I wish every day that I could undo that moment.
I used my time in prison to continue to grow and change, and also reconnected with my biological mom. Jodi at MTW was one of two people who visited me. After prison I have gotten my life on track. I have gone back to school to study business, and I am working as a regional training manager for Verizon. I got married and have a beautiful son.
I am where I am because of brave moves, like never leaving school regardless of where I had to sleep. Whether I was living in a foster home, on a park bench, or in prison: I went to school dirty but I never stopped learning. And I stayed in touch with Jodi through it all, with letters, phone calls, and visits.
I brought my son to the More Than Words summer barbeque in 2017 to meet all the current youth. It was amazing seeing the growth and knowing I had something to do with it. I could see myself in the youths’ eyes.