A life of crime to support an out of control drug habit had Nazerine Griffin on a path headed straight to prison.
"I made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of bad choices," he said. "Toward the end, I was addicted to three or four different drugs."
That was more than 22 years ago.
With the help of the nonprofit organization "The Doe Fund," Griffin chose a new path, one toward success.
"That's what motivated me to stop using, it was the fear of where I was going."
The Doe Fund gives formerly incarcerated, homeless, or drug-addicted men transitional housing and paid work.
You may have seen the "men in blue" cleaning city streets. Griffin was one of them.
After completing the program in 1995, Griffin worked his way through the ranks. He's now the director of The Doe Fund's largest residential facility in Bushwick.
"Learning to work again, getting up every morning, being accountable, and the self-worth and self-esteem starts to come back and you can slowly pick your head back up from the ground," Griffin said.
Griffin's day-to-day duties are to make sure the programs run smoothly. But he says a main priority is getting to know the men, making sure they understand he was once in their shoes.
"There's an old saying, 'Those that fail to remember are doomed to repeat.' So by helping them, I help myself every day," Griffin said.
Some even say they owe much of their success to Griffin's guidance.
"If Naz didn't embrace me the way he did when I was a trainee, I might not be here today talking the way I'm talking," said Craig Trotta, senior director of work operations for The Doe Fund.
Griffin says while he won't let his past define him, he's grateful for his experiences.
"I'm fortunate to have a job where day in and day out, I get the chance to see people take their lives back," Griffin said.
So, for turning his life around and inspiring others to do the same, Nazerine Griffin is our New Yorker of the Week.