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José Omega grew up in Bridgeport, living with his grandparents, both of whom worked two jobs, supported him, and provided a positive, stable, and guiding influence in his life. After he graduated from high school, José knew he needed to find a job. But he made a bad choice. “I started hanging out with wrong people—and started selling drugs,” he says. Eventually he started using, was caught, and given a 12-year sentence. He was released on parole after serving served two-and-a-half years of his sentence.

“I became a hard worker in prison,” he says. “I worked in the kitchen for almost two years straight. I did a lot of serving—serving and dishwashing.”

That hard work ethic—instilled by his grandparents and honed in prison has served him well. He entered a prison-release program and through a temporary agency, found a job at a precision tooling company, where he stayed for more than three years. When he decided it was time to move on, he got a wonderful recommendation. José soon found a new job and took a second, and he and his wife bought a home and settled into a comfortable lifestyle. But he began drinking too much.

While José was still on parole, he got into argument with his wife. He had been drinking. The heat of the argument frightened his wife, and she called the police. Because drinking is a violation of his parole, José was rearrested and sentenced to five months at the Hartford Correctional Center.

“During those five months had plenty of time to think, and he decided, “I’m going to pick myself up again but this time without drinking.”

He was released to The Connection’s REACH program in New Britain and completed the program in less than four months. He has been clean and sober for a year and is in the process of reconciliation with his wife. Because his work record had been so strong, he was able to go back to the two jobs he’d held before his arrest.

“Coming to the Connection helped. I became an AA member in the program and I’m still a member today. My goal is to continue my life sober and substance abuse free.”

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