Ibian is a 56 year old Puerto Rican woman born and raised in the Coney Island. She has been volunteering at Amethysy Women's Project for eight years.
When I came to Amethyst, it was through Aida’s outreach efforts. I was using. I was smoking crack. My mother knew her whole family. My mother used to stop her in the street and cry to her, to help her daughter (me) and Aida always used to stop me in the street and even come to my mom’s house. I always used to tell her I didn’t have a problem, ‘I have it under control’, I would say. Eventually she just snatched me off the street.
I got arrested a few times. I never went to prison, but I went through the system and it was the most horrible thing. The last time I got arrested, the third time or so, I thought ‘God I’m gonna do time’, so I came to Aida right away. I said to her, ‘I need to go to a program’. I came to Amethyst and was referred to a long-term program, which was the best thing that ever happened in my life. I went to Project Samaritan, a place that had the facilities for people with HIV. I’ve been living with (HIV) for fifteen or sixteen years. I suspect that I am one of those long-term survivors.
||One time I took a break for a while and my daughter, she tells me, “You can’t just stay home”. She says, ‘Mom, don’t you know the effect you’re having on the people that need your help? No really! Come on, you go out there, you speak, you tell your story, you can’t just stay home’. And it’s so true, it’s so true.|
About three months later they had family day. That’s when my mother, my daughter and my sister came to see me. When I seen my (family) I got so emotional because when I saw my mother crying this time, it wasn’t like she was suffering, she was happy. After rehab I was just overwhelmed with how my life changed for the better. Aida invited me to do some volunteering at Amethyst which really gave me the structure I needed in my life at the time. I had just finished an 18 month program on a Friday; Monday I started volunteering at Amethyst. I started doing outreach and it’s great because I was born and raised here in Coney Island so people know me. There were women that I used to smoke crack with that were still using, and they knew me and I would tell them, ‘You can do it to, if I did it, you can do it.’ It feels good giving back, especially when you know, you’re making the difference; some people even thought I was dead.
I love going out. I like to go out to do my presentations. When I finish the presentation and they tell me, ‘Oh that was great, thank you, and I learned so much!’ That satisfies me and it makes me feel like I did something to make a difference.
One time I took a break for a while and my daughter, she tells me, “You can’t just stay home”. She says, ‘Mom, don’t you know the effect you’re having on the people that need your help? No really! Come on, you go out there, you speak, you tell your story, you can’t just stay home’. And it’s so true, it’s so true.
My daughter, she is 27 years old now. She’s a police officer. Everybody knows her here, she’s awesome I love her. She’s still my number one supporter. I just want to enjoy and live a healthy life. I’m trying to improve my computers skills and guess what my daughter puts me on Facebook.