"We were cut from the same cloth; we had the same circumstances. I just ended up going down this road instead."

How Matt Wrote his Own Story

graduation_pic_for_success_story.jpgMatt’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, no longer a juvenile, faced up to 17 years in prison.

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 right path to recovery.

When he looks back at his life, Matt’s not sure why things turned out the way they did. “There was nothing that set me apart from my friends.

During treatment, Matt 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.

After receiving a degree in architectural millwork, Matt connected with a program aimed at helping youth succeed in college. With the program's help, Matt was able to transfer to a prestigious private college to pursue his lifelong dream of being a writer. Although the road was rocky, Matt graduated in December 2017 with a degree in journalism.

Now, Matt serves as program director at the halfway house where he stayed during his probation. He's determined to help individuals find the motivation to earn an education and become functioning members of society. With his own substance abuse behind him, Matt is uniquely positioned to help those who struggle with the same issues he did.

Whether it's continuing to law school, staying in the nonprofit world, or pursuing his lifelong goal of becoming a journalist, Matt now sees multiple paths to success. Thanks to compassionate community members and United Way partner agencies, Matt was able to turn his life around and beat the odds.

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