I’m 57 and am now working at Marathon Building Environments doing office furniture assembly and installations. I graduated from Hickman High School in 1984 after attending Ridgeway Elementary and West Junior High. I lived most of my life in Columbia, although my mother took us to Detroit for several years when I was about 12 where I played a lot of sports. My grandmother raised me. I remember going to the Sharp End with my dad for a haircut and to shoot pool.

I first went to prison in 1989 for drugs and did 16 months. Drugs made it hard for me to keep a job so I was homeless for awhile when I mostly slept in my car or couch surfed. Cocaine was everywhere. It was just the thing to do back then.

I’ve had one DWI’s and several “driving while revoked” so I did several more stints in prison. I got out the 4th time when President Trump signed an order in 2018 that nonviolent offenders would not have to serve more than 80 percent of sentence I was released.

I had been in the South Central Correction Center in Licking, Missouri, where I was out on work release with MoDOT. I made $7.50 a day cutting trees and cleaning up roadways with a crew of about 15 guys. When I was released, they gave me a check for $150 which I had saved.

I learned the proper way to cut down trees so when I was released in 2019, I resumed my lawn service which I had started before I went to prison. Since I didn’t have a driver’s license it was tough to get to jobs for mowing and for my full time work now. My friend takes me home. I take the bus often, but it doesn’t run after 6 p.m.

My aunt told me about Love Columbia while I was working for People Ready — a temp service which led me to Marathon where I work today. I have seven children, the oldest is 37 who I see often. I stayed with my mother and sister when I was first released. After a little while I went to Kansas City where I got reacquainted with my grandchildren who I enjoyed getting to known while taking them fishing and to other places.

I had decided to change my lifestyle. I realized I didn’t have to hang out with the same guys where I often ended up in trouble. Love Columbia and the Housing Authority helped me find an apartment, so I have my own quiet place to think. I can go there and relax rather than always have to be looking for a place to hang out. I can cook there and keep my stuff. If I am having a tough day, I can go home to my own place, and I don’t have to deal with other people’s issues which weigh on you.

I am currently participating in Love Columbia’s “Extra Mile Program” to improve my life skills. I don’t belong to a church right now but I do believe in a higher power and that Jesus is my Lord and Savior.

I like to fish and hunt. A friend taught me how to hunt for mushrooms so we will be looking for morels in April when the ground is soft and wet. I’ll be mowing some lawns when it is hot. I’m looking forward to resuming my lawn service this summer.