My name is Ronnie Williams. I was born in Seattle on June 22, 1971. I grew up in the Yesler Terrace projects in the ’70s when the Black Panthers were in the neighborhood. I went to Bailey Elementary. I played on a Little League Baseball team in Judkins Park. But I’ve had a hard life. My life was a total disaster. Alcohol. Drugs. The street.
I lost both my parents in 1993. My mom, Alciea Ann Williams, died from cirrhosis of the liver. My dad, Richard Williams, died from an overdose of heroin. My sister found him in a pool of blood in Holly Court apartments.
I was shot in the face in 1995. I’d been playing dominoes that night — not gambling, though — at Angle Lake apartments. There were girls and drinking. I was starting a new job the next day. But at about 2 a.m. I heard footsteps behind me. I was never told who did it.
I’d guess 70 percent of the males in my family have been to prison. My grandmother was incarcerated for murder in 1955. She was released and raised me, but then sentenced again in 1986. I want to break the cycle by not going to prison.
It took me 30 years to stop using alcohol and drugs. I was six months clean Sept. 13. At the end of March 2018, I plan on graduating from drug court. The Lord took away my desire to use.
I want to write a book titled “True Facts About My Life.” I’ve shared part of my story here, but there have been good things too: drug court, family and Real Change.
Drug court got my life back together with the intensive outpatient program. You go to classes on Monday, Thursday and Friday for an hour and a half with 10 or 12 other people for one year. In class we talk about how we’re doing with our recovery and share our stories for the week. The program helps with resources like counseling and housing. The Lord blessed me to move into my first apartment on my birthday this year. Billi Schmitt from Pioneer Housing handed me my keys. I encourage people to get in outpatient programs and resources through drug court.
I pray for my friends and family every day. I have 50 siblings all over the country. Two of my brothers are with me at the Pike Place park as I write this. I lost three friends in July. One died from cancer. Another from a motorcycle accident. I still miss my parents. I’m proud of my own children. My daughter graduated from Juanita High and my son graduates next. I’ve got a son at Georgia Tech.
I’ve been a Real Change vendor for over four years. It’s a good paper with lots of resources. I have connected about 12 people with jobs there. I sell papers in Bellevue by Ezell’s Famous Chicken and in West Seattle by Target.
Real Change saved my life. But God saved me first, and I want to thank Him. I go to Paradise of Praise on 1316 SW Holden St. and invite others to come.
My dream is to open a BBQ catering business. I’m a chef by trade. My first job was at Ivar’s on the waterfront when I was 16.
I thank Neal at Real Change, my family, Judge Casey and the drug court staff and Tessie Reed, who’s been my friend through addiction, recovery and after.
Wait, there's more. Check out articles in the full September 20 issue.