Lisa was selected as the 2019 Graduation speaker. Below is the speech she gave to her fellow trainees.
Good morning fellow graduates, family and friends, neighbors, Pine Street staff and Representative Michlewitz! I am proud to be here and I want to thank my daughter Asia and my sister Carmen for giving me the courage to speak here today.
I’ve lived in Boston for most of my life. Life wasn’t always easy. I had a good childhood, I had a good upbringing. But despite all this, I had alienated myself from my friends and family with my negativity. I struggled with substance use and served time in prison.
When I was released, I spent six months at a sober house. I stayed on couches and was unsure of where I’d go next. I ended up staying at the Women's Inn at Pine Street so I could find a sense of stability.
While I was there, the shelter staff introduced me to the workforce development programs.
I participated in both the housekeeping training program and more recently the iCater foodservice program at Pine Street. I learned skills that helped me get back into the flow of work. I was motivated. I finally found myself a community here.
I wanted to create that sense of community with new trainees as they came into the program, because I could really empathize with them. I stayed in a shelter. I’ve been down on my luck. But I know that everyone needs some help at some point, so it was important to me to inspire others to stay motivated. I’ve worked really hard to stay on track.
There were times I doubted myself in the training program. But the staff never gave up on me, even when I didn't want to be helped. I want to thank Laurie Rose, Jake, Clay, Susan, Carey and Frank – and everyone else – who believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
With a criminal record it was difficult to find a place to live and a steady job, but Pine Street staff always worked to keep me positive.
They helped me with housing. I have my own one bedroom in Dorchester. I’ve been there for about five years. I love my apartment and the stability it’s given me. It’s the little things like having my own space, listening to music, and inviting my daughter over that make me so happy.
Today, I am also proud to report that I have a new job at Boston Harbor Cruises. I feel so great now. I feel empowered and independent. I feel like a productive member of society, like I’m contributing to positive things.
I am proof that if you keep pushing and stay positive, great things can happen.
I’m a work in progress, but I am so grateful from the bottom of my heart for everything Pine Street has done. Thank you to everyone who has had faith in me.
I'll leave you with my favorite saying: If you can see it, you can be it. Congratulations to everyone here today!