Aquil aka “Oky” aka “Quil” is a charismatic individual and former offender that
embodies the spirit of all that attend Hang Time. He is one of the most successful stories that has ever walked through the doors of a Hang Time session. Aquil is also the “brother” of Shaneese and the nephew of Roland. Late in 2015, Aquil returned home from incarceration after serving a state bid for drug sales conspiracy. Ironically, Aquil was also front and center in the same Bridgeport PD surveillance photo alongside his “ride or die sister” Shaneese. The love and respect between Aquil, Shaneese, and Roland is simply amazing.
Upon his arrival home, Uncle Roland told him that he had to attend a Hang Time session before even thinking about going back to the street life of Bridgeport. Aquil wearing a court ordered ankle monitor, was very reluctant at first but was assured by Roland that the program had helped not just himself but many others that were in the streets or just came home from jail. According to Aquil, he only agreed to go to Hang Time to appease his uncle. He also, had every intention of going right back to selling drugs to survive immediately after attending the Hang Time session.
According to Aquil, within the two hour session he attended, he had a complete change of
heart about going back to his old ways. He felt the strong sense of “family” support and
welcoming by the entire group. He says that when he saw others in the room that he knew
were once running drugs and guns in the streets of Bridgeport all sitting at the table having real talk with respect. He says he was inspired and he knew he could turn his life around if they did. At the conclusion of his first Hang Time session he vowed to not only work on himself but to also help others in the community experiencing the same internal struggle he had prior to attending the program.
Later in that same year, Aquil spoke with his cousin Rob who also, had a history of “hustling”
and “street life” who had was continuing to repeat the negative behavior. One Tuesday night, Aquil invited Rob to attend a Hang Time session to which Rob flatly refused. Rather than force the issue, Aquil said “Ok, but before we go out, let’s stop and get something to eat”, Rob agreed. Aquil drove Rob directly to 570 State St. and before Rob realized it he was at Hang Time and saw friends that he hadn’t seen in years as well as many people he knew were “out of the game” and doing well.Rob sat down and participated in the food and the discussion of the session and has been a loyal Hang Timer ever since. Hang Time has assisted Rob with many resources along his journey of change. He often tells people that “Hang Time not only changed my life but it saved my whole family”.
Based on Aquil’s commitment to change and his own personal growth, we have supported him in getting his first job out of prison, housing and his current career at Continuum of Care. Not only has Aquil improved his quality of life, but he now works part time for the same anti-gun/gang violence organization he was once highlighted for his negative actions. He also, volunteers weekly as a part of the Hang Time staff helping all who attend. He was recently employed as a Street Outreach Worker for Bridgeport’s “Street Safe” program working with youth in crisis and at risk teens. Aquil is also currently enrolled in Housatonic Community College and plans to pursue his degree in Sociology and to use that degree to further improve the lives of members of Bridgeport’s communities. Aquil’s life story struggles and continued growth and success is nothing short of amazing.