Matt’s unstable childhood started him on the path to a challenging adulthood. He grew up in an unsafe neighborhood and without adequate supervision from his parents. Following his peers’ example, Matt became hooked on drugs at age 13. By age 14, he faced his first criminal charges for possession. At age 17, he dropped out of high school and was facing a felony charge for possession.
From that point on, Matt’s alcoholism and addiction grew more and more uncontrollable. Matt was arrested on drug charges and faced up to 17 years in prison because he was no longer a juvenile.
Much to Matt’s relief, the judge on his case saw his potential. Instead of a prison sentence, Matt received two years of probation with substance abuse treatment and a stipulation that he must earn his high school equivalency diploma. Matt struggled through treatment but was on the path to recovery.
He joined an apprenticeship program at a community college, which provided him academic instruction and paid training in construction as he worked toward earning his high school equivalency.
Afterward, he connected with a program aimed at helping youth succeed in college. With the program's help, Matt transferred to a prestigious, private college to pursue his lifelong dream of being a writer. Although the road was rocky, Matt graduated with a journalism degree.
“There was nothing that set me apart from my friends. We were cut from the same cloth; we had the same circumstances. I just ended up going down this road instead. And, I am grateful for it."
Now, Matt serves as a program director at the halfway house where he stayed during his probation. Matt looks to utilize his life experiences to help those struggling with the same issues he did by helping them to find their motivation to earn an education and become functioning members of society once more.
Thanks to compassionate community members, United Way and its partners, Matt and many others are able to turn their lives around and beat the odds. All they need is a helping hand.