By Kristen Cervenak

Easy Does It resident Troy D. Harris represents true optimism. Plagued with tragedy from a young age, he encourages others to teach children and adults alike about the danger of the streets.

“You’re not a man until you take a drink,” Harris’ father told him at the age of nine.

Surrounded by family alcoholism, he succumbed to the disease at the age of 14. After witnessing his father’s murder, he was engulfed with death, eventually losing both his sister and mother too. This often pushed him to relapse.

“Every time things were positive, I would lose a family member or something.”

After four family funerals, he knew things had to change. During a family reunion, he witnessed the change that alcohol made on his family. Within a couple of hours, they would transform from affectionate to hateful. He realized then that alcohol was poison.

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After serving 10 years in prison for attempting to avenge the murder of his father, Harris quickly learned that it was possible to find ways to locate alcohol, drugs, and gangs in prison. Shortly afterwards, he discovered he suffers from hepatitis C and cirrhosis.

“I don’t want to die. I’m 55 years old,” he said, “I don’t want to die when I have spent half my life in prison.”

Although he suffers from health problems, it has never stopped him from enjoying bike rides. He has learned to deeply appreciate nature. With a clearer mindset, he finds joy in seeing wild animals.

“Some people take it for granted. Think outside the box. What will it be like in 25 years from now? You have to look at the state of the world.”

People need to be educated. They assume [kids] are druggies, drunks, jailbirds, gangsters.

Troy spoke about his time spent at EDI. The members of the organization enforce boundaries and goals while displaying compassion. He stated that the program is about change and works hard to improve his quality of life. He also feels that his phone is the most important part of his recovery, keeping the numbers of doctors, sponsors, support members, and staff easily accessible. As a result of his recovery, he now avoids going into the city to resist temptation.

“Temptation is a killer,” he states.

With what he has learned, Harris wants to prevent youth from discovering drugs on the streets.

“When a kid dies without living life, there’s a problem. Young kids get sucked up by streets. The streets need direction. People need to be educated. They assume they’re druggies, drunks, jailbirds, gangsters. They say, ‘Let them rot in Hell.’ But that’s callous.”

Harris hopes to remove that stereotype. He wants to continue his recovery, clear his record, go back to school, and involve himself in restaurant management. An amazing chef, he even prepared a meal for the members of Writing Wrongs.

“Some people can drink responsibility. I can’t, but some can. My advice is stay focused, get good grades, don’t get caught up in the fast life and party scene. Because then you end up falling asleep in class and miss the bus. Don’t miss the bus,” he advocates.

“You have chances to make it a good life. Have value on everything and be responsible. Don’t be impulsive; look at the pros and cons of it. You have to take a time out, back up, and look at the situation.”