Enrique Rodriguez is setting an example for anyone who wishes to create a better life for themselves.
The reformed Bloods gang member turned singing phlebotomist can be seen on TikTok delivering gospel songs and lifting the spirits of patients in a New Jersey hospital.
It’s not often that someone makes it out of a gang — going from hurting people to helping people instead.
Many people often don’t realize that misguided youths don’t actually seek to hurt people when they join a gang. More often than not, newly recruited members have joined to feel safe and have somewhere they feel they belong.
As was the case for Rodriguez, joining the Bloods after his oldest brother went to prison in 2009 leaving him feeling disconnected from his loved ones. He sought out what he called “the wrong kind of family.”
Rodriguez thought they had his best interests in mind and were going to look out for him.
That couldn’t have been further from the truth.
According to Rodriguez, “The gang lifestyle is pure manipulation. They make you feel like they care about you, that they’ve got your back, that you’re family; but all they do is use you so they don’t have to get their hands dirty.” After three years of being entangled with the gang, Rodriguez finally had his wake-up call.
It wasn’t until a rival gang’s second attempt on his mother’s life that he realized he needed to change course rapidly.
“I have done a lot of bad things and mixed with a lot of bad people,” he admitted. “I’m just grateful God looked out for me and my family.”
Fortunately, his mother’s attacker was arrested before he could cause serious harm.
Rodriguez decided to ditch the gang in 2012 and got his foot in the door at Robert Wood Johnson as a hospital housekeeper and became an ICU patient attendant a year later.
Rodriguez taught himself to play guitar and piano during his tenure at the hospital and learned that many others appreciate his gospel music and singing voice.
“Jesus told me, ‘Use your voice to love others and bring joy and peace,’ ” said Rodriguez. “So [as] long as there’s air in my lungs, I’ll do just that.”
Fast forward to today, and Rodriguez is now a phlebotomist, and when he’s not running blood samples between laboratories, he’s playing his guitar and singing to patients at their bedside.
A collection of his videos can be found on his TikTok, @thesingingphlebotomist.
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