"I made a promise to God that if he took the taste of the streets and heroin out of my mouth that I would help people until the day I die (…)"

 

~ Bianca ~

Speaker, Author, Activist

PHOTO BY GABRIELLA  DeGIROLAMI

International speaker, award winning author, and community activist are words used to describe who Angalia Bianca is today, but it was not always that way. Affectionately known as Bianca, she grew up as a spoiled girl form Oak Park, Illinois. Her upbringing by her close knit loving Italian family wasn't enough to keep her from the allure of the west side Chicago city streets.

Over a span of seven trips to the penitentiary, Bianca spent a total of 12 years in state prison, and also served time during her many trips to the county jail. 

Bianca was ultimately disowned by her family, lost custody of her children, and became homeless on Chicago's west side for over 20 years. It was during that time that she remained at rock bottom, experiencing the many harsh realities of the streets. Her life was riddled with violence, addiction, incarceration, loneliness, darkness, and despair. 

The downward spiral of Bianca's life began very early. She began using drugs at 9 years old. She would eventually go on to drop out of high school and started abusing heroin at age 17. She would struggle with addiction for the next 36 years. At 21, she joined a Chicago Latino gang and became a career criminal ultimately serving 12 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

For many years Bianca would call abandoned spaces (like pictured above) home.

Go In Deep with Bianca as she gives an in depth, raw, and gritty account of real life experiences she faced while living in addiction on Chicago's west side city streets. Her storytelling is brutally honest and will take you on a heart wrenching journey through hopelessness and redemption. 

On August 9, 2011 Bianca walked out of prison for the very last time. Finally, decades of drug abuse and hopelessness had come to an end and a new life for Bianca began. Never could she have imagined the new life awaiting her on those same city streets that she knew so well.

PHOTO BY GABRIELLA  DeGIROLAMI

PHOTO BY GABRIELLA  DeGIROLAMI

Instead of returning to the streets like she had done many times before, Bianca decided to seek help. She found the help she needed at A Safe Haven in Chicago. This allowed her to treat the root causes of her addiction. With determination for a better life, Bianca quickly rose through the program, and after 8 short months left A Safe Haven and has been clean ever since.

A Safe Haven may have been where Bianca regained her sobriety, but 2 months into the program is where she found her calling when she began working as a violence interrupter for the anti-violence group CeaseFire. Then CeaseFire Program Manager, J.W. Hughes, took a huge risk on Bianca and gave her the job that would ultimately give her a purpose in life. To this day, Mr. Hughes, in his many hires throughout his many years as program manager, accredits taking a chance with Bianca as the best hiring decision of his career.

Bianca worked for CeaseFire at the University of Illinois Chicago for 8 years and continues to deliver presentations on incarceration, gang violence prevention and anti-terrorism, substance abuse and social change at universities, high schools, state prisons, state and city legislation hearings/committees, and national conventions.

Bianca has been clean and sober since May 8, 2010. She has reunited with her family and five children. She has kept a job and prides herself on being a successful, self-sufficient, law-abiding, productive, taxpaying citizen. 

Today, Bianca is a highly sought after authority on violence prevention. She travels internationally to deliver presentations on incarceration, gangs, human trafficking, anti-terrorism, social change, and substance abuse. 

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