Damien steps into each work day with a sense of resolve and purpose. While every shift is different, the goal remains the same: to show up for himself and his team. As a supervisor with the Chrysalis Roads program, each morning he ensures that his highway maintenance crew is equipped to safely and effectively provide litter abatement and landscaping services along our Southern California freeways.
The path that led Damien to his current stability was not forged by steps that were always so steadfast. After losing his mother at 15 years old, he felt as though he had lost his sense of direction and a part of himself. As each member of the family processed the loss in their own way, Damien pulled away from home and school and turned to the streets to find community. “Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, months turned into years,” Damien reflects when he recounts 25 years of living with substance dependence after the trauma of his mother’s death.
Damien’s pathway over the next several years was dotted with moments of clarity and reflection, which sometimes occurred while he was serving time in the justice system. “In my early thirties, that’s when I knew that I was addicted. I always wanted [to get sober], it was just finding the right footsteps to get moving.” After the close of a three-year sentence in 2019, Damien committed to sobriety and reentering the workforce at 40 years old. “I was really looking forward to it. I had a better head on my shoulders. I was able to give myself a chance this time around.”
He later joined our job-readiness program at the recommendation of his parole officer, with the goal of becoming a crew member with Chrysalis Roads.
Over the course of about a year, Chrysalis Roads management took notice of Damien’s dependability and knack for building rapport with and encouraging fellow clients. More than once, he was counseled to apply for a permanent position with the organization. “The supervisors pushed me a lot. They started to lift me up. I finally said, you know what, what do I have to lose? I’ve been running from things my whole life. I’m gonna try this.”
Today, Damien is a full-time, permanent supervisor with Chrysalis Roads. Now, he is the supervisor lifting up members of his own crew. “I love it,” he beams. “It’s the most awesome job I’ve ever had in my life. When I see other individuals that are on the same path, it makes me feel good. I know where they’re at and where they’re headed. I love my crew.”
Each day, Damien continues to build a foundation toward a brighter future – for himself and through the lives he changes each day on the job. “It’s been a long journey. I’m still finding out who I am. I’m stoked with where I am at today.”