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Patrick Johnson is a staple of The Oneida Square Project. As the founder of the New Life Institute as well as the Hoops and Dreams Project, Patrick is passionate about facilitating change in the lives of young people and in our community as a whole.
Growing up in Utica, Patrick experienced first-hand, the devastating effects of drugs and violence in the black community. At the age of 14, Patrick was curious about marijuana, by 20 his curiosity and use shifted to hard drugs. Experiencing the dangerous lifestyle associated with drug use, both in Utica and Atlanta, Georgia, Patrick was in desperate need of a pivotal moment in his life. At 32, in the depths of addiction, Patrick was arrested and served one year in state prison. Looking back, Patrick sees this arrest and the time he served as the hand of God in his life. During that year, Patrick was completely drug free. When he was released from prison in 1995, Patrick used for one day, and then made a choice to live drug free.
Since April 9th of 1995, Patrick has done just that. Even when using, Patrick was a hard worker, so once he had changed his lifestyle, Patrick worked his way from being a service provider for RCIL, to working with local drug treatment programs as a substance abuse counselor. From prison, to treatment centers, Patrick was troubled to find that such a high percentage of inmates and addicts were people of color.
He was determined to take his life experience and use it to inspire the black community to be empowered, to make change, to face hard truths, to create a safe environment for their children, and to end black on black crime. From this determination, the New Life Institute and the Hoops and Dreams Project were born. These programs were formed to address black on black crime, gun violence, education, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, race relations, unity, and overall health. Utilizing basketball, community events, group counseling, one on one counseling, and mentoring for those coming out of incarceration, these issues are addressed.
For a decade, Patrick has continued to make this work the purpose of his life. Today, Patrick can be found working part time for the District Attorney’s office as well Mohawk Valley Community College. In both roles, his expertise and life experience are an extreme asset to our community. He can also be found working with young men and women in the Cornerstone building on Tuesday and Thursday nights for the New Life Institute, as well as at every Hoops and Dreams event throughout the year.
For more information regarding The New Life Institute or the Hoops and Dreams Project contact Patrick at Patrick@oneidasquareproject.com
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