Mike had a good job that he lost unexpectedly. Unfortunately, to cope with this loss he turned to drugs. For the next nine years Mike would be incarcerated three times for charges of drug possession and selling.

The Opportunities Industrialization Center of Clark County (OIC), the local Community Action Agency in Clark County, met with Mike in 2008 while he was serving his second sentence in prison. He was participating in OIC’s Second Chance Act program where he attended “Thinking for a Change” classes (T4C) – a cognitive behavioral training curriculum – during his incarceration. Mike shared with OIC staff that he wanted to change his life, so he was enrolled in OIC’s Re-Entry Program where he would continue attending classes at OIC’s Opportunities for New Directions (OND) program after his release, and would also learn construction skills.

Once released from his second incarceration, Mike came to OND and began continuing classes. However, Mike only attended OND for two weeks due to employment obligations that he took on to fulfill his parole. Unfortunately, Mike again became involved with drugs and alcohol, was not able to maintain his employment, and recidivated landing him another prison sentence.

OIC staff once again saw Mike attending their T4C classes in the institution. Mike again expressed to staff that he wanted to change his life. He shared that in addition to OIC’s T4C classes, he was also attending substance abuse classes. In 2012 OIC again accepted Mike into their Re-Entry Program. This time when Mike was released from prison he said he knew two things. First, he was never going to be incarcerated again. Realizing the ages of his children, he knew he had missed out on so much of their lives during his multiple incarcerations, and if he went away again it would be for a very long time. Secondly, Mike said he really wanted to use his experiences to help others.

Again, upon his release Mike began attending T4C classes through OIC’s OND program. He also joined a local Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group and managed to stay clean and sober by staying in contact with his sponsor. This time, Mike remained engaged in the program for four months and completed all 25 Thinking for a Change Training sessions. Then he hit the ground running, and was able to quickly secure a part-time job. After two weeks of proving himself Mike was given a full-time position. This would be his first legitimate job in 13 years. Then, six week later Mike was promoted to manager!

Although his new job kept him very busy, Mike stuck with his goal of using his personal experiences to help others and also began working a part-time job as a men’s residential technician at a local alcohol and drug treatment facility. Mike now owns his own home and is working to remodel it in order to provide a clean and sober living environment for recovering addicts. He is also currently attending the local community college to earn his social work degree, and ultimately wants to run his own recovery program. Mike says he now understands how the right support can change the course of your life and wants to be able to offer that chance to others.

For more information about Community Action programs in your area, visit www.oacaa.org. Note, not all Community Action Agencies offer these programs.

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