At 22, Josh is one of our youngest and newest EPOCA members…
Meet Josh Diaz. At 22, Josh is one of our newest and youngest EPOCA members. Josh first heard of EPOCA when Co-director Steve O’Neill did an outreach at Spectrum Leicester House, in late July. Josh joined EPOCA right away and is planning to apply for our paid Community Organizer Internship.
Josh explains why he became involved with EPOCA, “I’ve been here since I was incarcerated – I was in Worcester House of Corrections for one year. The two months I’ve been out, I’ve been with EPOCA! What interested me was how normal people can come together, help out and make a difference. We can do so much. It’s exciting to go from feeling powerless to feeling like you can do something about it. As one voice we are working for the same purpose. We can do so much if there’s a lot of us.”
“I’m from Lawrence and Worcester and all around Massachusetts. I grew up in the struggles. I like the Jobs NOT Jails campaign – the way I look at it, our kids, my kids might end up in those beds (the 10,000 new prison units Massachusetts taxpayers are expected to fund and build by 2023). They’re not just making the spaces in jails. They are going to fill them up. This is our kids’ futures we’re looking at. I have a daughter and this is what motivates me to do the right thing. I want a different future for her.”
“I was fourteen when I had my daughter. I grew up fast. It helped me become a little more mature. My daughter just turned eight years old. Her mother passed away and I am struggling with her parents for custody. They do not see eye -to-eye with me, they say oh, he’s gang affiliated – well, that’s not who I am anymore. I’ve changed. That’s not who I am today. That’s the problem when you go apply for a job and they see that background – not who you are today.”
“I like the Minimum Wage campaign we’re collecting petitions for. I’m a big supporter of that. You can’t survive on $8.25 an hour – especially if you have kids. I’m involved collecting petition signatures for Jobs NOT Jails and I’m climbing up the Minimum Wage campaign petitions, too. I like collecting petitions, it can be nerve-wracking, make you nervous, but I’m working on it. You can’t have that problem if you want to be a community organizer, when you have to make speeches in public.”
“I like how we go – I call it travelling – how we go to Boston. We work with some powerful people, we’re talking to and shaking hands with powerful people to let them know we have power, too. Last week, I met Senator Tom McGee. I met Sheriff Lew Evangelidis at our RMV Hearing in Boston and at the follow-up meeting. It was good to shake hands with the Sheriff and be on the right side of the law. I’m really glad to be a part of the team.”