Each time Tom Florez sits down across from one of his teenage clients, he sees a little bit of himself reflected there. And he remembers.
He remembers growing up in a poor neighborhood in Grand Island, in an environment riddled with drugs and drug addicts. He remembers feeling tough, and feeling like he had to be tough. He remembers thinking that it was normal for everyone to go to jail — at least once. That it was normal for everyone to live the way his family lived.
“I remember thinking, ‘this is it. This is all that life will hold for me.’” Florez said.
The story of his own past parallels those of the teenagers he talks to today about their struggles with addiction. Their feelings of invincibility. Their attitude that ‘this is it.’