My name is Andrea Gaines. I am a 48 year old black woman who had a past with crack cocaine. During my years of addiction I made some really bad choices. I put my addiction first and everything that was important in my life last. I made some terrible mistakes and ended up with a criminal background. Their only misdemeanors but that certainly is not excuse for making those choices to support my addiction. For the last 7 years, I have been clean from crack cocaine and all other substances that would alter my mind to make bad decisions. Since being clean, I have committed over 500 hours of volunteer service at a drug recovery center which I received an award for those hours. I was nominated by Governor Rell to sit on the Board for the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DHMAS), I am a registered voter and I reside in Bloomfield, CT. I am a mentor to other addicts and guide them on ways to live a clean and healthy sober life. I work every weekend at a Transitional Living Shelter for the homeless. I have not committed any crimes since 2004 (Conspiracy to Commit Larceny 6). When I committed this larceny I was giving probation but due to my substance abuse, I violated probation. I turned myself in on this case in 2008 and was given 37 days at York Correction Institution (minimum security). Today, I am a clean, responsible, respectful adult. I have not used drugs since September 11, 2007. It hurts so, so bad when people are still judging me on my past. I’m dependable and a seasoned clerical assistant. I have recently passed the Secretary 1 exam for the state of Connecticut.I have been rejected so many times for my past decision. When is someone going to give me a chance? I cry so hard every night, because I’m working so hard to become a productive member of society and everyone is just shutting the door in my face. My heart is heavy. I have accepted that I have to live with my bad decision but when is someone going to give this recovery addict a break? I work hard, I’m dependable, I’m respectful and most importantly, I am a change person. I am crying out to employers to stop looking in my past and see what I’m doing today.Nobody is perfect.