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Inside the _____ New York City NYC Stories

Inside the Friendship of Aria and Tishema

This is one of a series of stories we are sharing to show what's inside CubeSmart. You not only get a peek inside our customer's storage unit, but also a peek inside what is important to them. Thank you to Aria and Tishema, customers of our CubeSmart store in Manhattan,  for sharing their story with us.

A few months ago, a Facebook post by Aria Willoughby caught Tishema Smith's attention.

Tishema and Aria went to separate high schools in Brooklyn, N.Y., that operated in the same building. They joined the same cheerleading team. And they continued their acquaintance the last several years via social media.

So when Aria wrote there was a job opening where she worked, Tishema decided to look into it. Unhappy with her own job, Tishema gladly accepted the quality assurance position at the drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.

Tishema, 23, who has a 3-year-old daughter, quickly found her new work eye-opening.

"They want to change but they don't have the support system," she said of the rehab patients. "Sometimes we see people around our age. It's easy to go in that direction."

Aria, 23, was working at a Disney retail store in Times Square when she saw a listing for a job at the drug rehabilitation center posted on CraigsList. She, too, has learned lessons about people who battle addictions.

"I learned that people usually want to change but on their own time," she said. "That could easily be one of us."

Aria finds the work inspiring.

"I think about the patients who tell me that I'm making a difference," she said. "That keeps me motivated. Even if that could be one patient."

Aria lives in Queens with her two sons, ages 7 and 5.

It's not just the patients at the rehab center that face challenges.

"A couple of days ago, I felt like the world was against me," she said during a visit to our store's grand opening at 444 West 55th St. "No matter what I tried to do, to try to remain positive in life, everything was pulling me back. I kept getting knocked down and thought, ‘Why get up?'"

But Aria said she continues to fight, "by the grace of God." And with a little humor. Her best friend recently texted her in the middle of the night and they both laughed over an incident in which her friend found herself in an awkward situation in a flirting-turned-bad moment.

Aria takes online courses in behavioral psychology at South University in Savanah, Ga.

"I want to understand why people do what they do to understand how to help them," she said.

About the author

Adam Bowles

Adam Bowles is the owner of Not With Ink, a digital media company in Jewett City, Conn. He spent 15 years as a reporter and editor for The Bulletin in Norwich, Conn., and has freelanced for such publications as The New York Times. His latest project is called The World in One Square Mile, a series of on-the-spot interviews for short profiles that demonstrate the need to take interest in others, listen to their stories and discover what unites us all. He and his wife, Luisa, have two daughters.

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