A decade ago, Lisbon Black was squatting in an abandoned house in Brooklyn, fresh out of jail, panhandling for money and dealing with a substance abuse problem.

But these days, Black is a star volunteer for The Alliance for Positive Change — helping struggling New Yorkers get through the coronavirus crisis. 

The non-profit — which works with New Yorkers with HIV/AIDS, chronic health conditions and other challenges like homelessness — is the same organization that got him back on his feet so many years ago. 

“If there’s anything that the agency may need assistance with, and I can help out, I will help out,” Black, 69, told The Post. 

Prior to the coronavirus crisis, the native New Yorker did outreach work for the organization but once the pandemic struck, that work was no longer possible. 

He didn’t want to stop giving back, however. 

“They asked me if I would volunteer [during the crisis] and I jumped to the task immediately,” Black said. 

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Black helped the organization with outreach and needle exchanges.

Matthew McDermott


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Armed with a mask and gloves, Black takes the train from his Harlem apartment a few days a week and heads to the Lower East Side, where he helps Alliance deliver food, masks and gift cards to struggling clients. 

Even though Black is older and considered to be high-risk for the virus, he still wanted to help. 

“He served as security in different sites, he served in reception, because we were working with a skeleton crew, pretty much anything you asked Lisbon to do, he did,” said Brenda Starks-Ross, chief operating officer for Alliance. 

“When others were afraid to come out, he said ‘I’m willing to do anything, count me in.’” 

Black said if it wasn’t for the Alliance, he likely wouldn’t be where he is today and he wants to make sure he pays that kindness forward. 

Lisbon Black
Matthew McDermott

“It basically was their support and their help that helped pull me off the streets, you know, and it gave me encouragement, gave me back my dignity, my self-esteem. And they gave me somewhat of a direction that I didn’t have at the time,” Black said. 

“They’ve always been there and been very, very supportive and always looked at my needs and were there to assist me all the time so I thought it was a good thing for me to be able to give back to them … they always had an open door for anyone that was in need.”

Do you have a nominee for The Post’s Hero of the Day? Email heroes@nypost.com.