Riccardo is a “Let’s Make This Work” intern. We sat down and asked him a few questions.
Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey that led you to ISPN.
A: I’m 23, born and raised on the South side of Providence. Growing up, I always wanted to move beyond my surroundings, but never had the courage. I thought if I did what I wanted to do, people would look at me funny. I guess you could say I was a follower.
Q: What changed that mindset?
A: I was shot in the leg in 2014. My mom asked me to go to the store one night. I was walking back when a guy in a truck pulled up beside me and asked me where I was from. I lived in the neighborhood my whole life, so I asked him why he wanted to know. He kept pressing me. I said if it there was going to be a problem to get out of the truck, so we could deal with it. I saw him pull the gun, and he shot me in the leg.
After that, I was angry. I shut down. I had all this frustration building up inside me and I felt alone. I felt like no one could understand what I was going through. I was uncontrollable. I saw how I was treating my sister, my mom, my grandmother and knew I had to change.
Q: How did you end up at ISPN?
A: When I was in the hospital, Archie* came. I was so angry, I didn’t want to listen to anything he had to say. It wasn’t until over this past summer, I saw him at Community Prep. I went to apologize to him for what I had said. He told me he understood and asked, ‘Is there anything I can help you with?’ I told him I needed help with employment. He told me he had something in mind for me, and here I am.
Q: What do you do outside of “Let’s Make This Work”?
A: I work at the Christmas Tree Shoppe doing overnight stock. I work 11 pm to 7 am, and then come here for 9 am class. It’s funny to think about because I got the call from the Christmas Tree Shoppe at the same time I got the call about being accepted into the program here. I went from having no job and no income, to this! It’s given me the courage to go after what I want.
Q: So what’s next for you?
A: I want to go back to school so I can do what you all do here. I want to let my voice be heard in my community. I broke through some difficult situations and I want to help people break through whatever it is they are going through because I did.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: I’m a big fan of motivational speakers. I really like Les Brown. He has this quote ‘If there’s a group of 5 people and a crowd of 1,000…I’m going to speak the group of 5 the same way I speak to the crowd of 1,000.’ I want to be more like that.
Q: What’s one thing we wouldn’t know about you, just by looking at you?
A: I’m ambitious, motivated, outgoing and happy. I feel like I lost that part of me for a while, but that’s my true self.
*Arthur Johnson, Nonviolence Streetworker