My name is Ken. I struggled with various illnesses when I was a child. When I was one year old my lung collapsed as a result of acute pneumonia. At the age of eleven I was diagnosed with a mitral valve disorder. I stayed away from alcohol because my dad and step-fathers were alcoholics and I did not want to be like them. When I was nine years old I started experimenting with drugs. I had three older brothers and when they were not home I would steal their drugs and experiment with them. I became a liar, manipulator and thief. I started skipping school and withdrew completely after completing the sixth grade.
By then I was a full blown opiate addict. I stepped up my game of stealing by adding robbery and breaking and entering to my resume to get drugs. I would break into homes, rob local businesses and commit other crimes to get what I wanted/needed. When I was eighteen years old I was accused of stealing money from my mom’s boyfriend. He confronted me about it, a fight ensued, and the end result was the loss of his life. I went to the county jail to be held until my trial. All I knew about prison was what I had seen on TV. Due to frequent physical outbursts, I was kept on heavy psychotropic drugs.
After eleven months in the County Jail, I was sent to prison, for the crimes of Aggravated Murder and Aggravated Robbery. My mother, finally coming to terms with what I had done, came for her first visit. She had a massive coronary and passed away while being processed to enter the Institution Visiting Room.
I accepted that I would spend the rest of my life in prison and tried to make the best of it. I continued to use drugs in prison for a number of years. Then I made a decision to stop. I had heard the gospel presentation about Jesus Christ dying on a cross for my sins and offering me eternal life. In 1996 I put my trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord. I try to live in a way that would be pleasing to my Lord every day. I certainly am not perfect, but He has always been there for me. I met the founder of Serenity Street at a Promise Keeper’s Rally, within the prison walls, in 2007. I had no thoughts of ever getting out of prison, I had gone before the Parole Board and been rejected a number of times. To my surprise, I received notice of Parole with an outdate of January 2008.
I went to the Serenity House straight from prison. It was quite an adjustment period for me to live as a free man. There were many things that I had not seen or experienced outside the prison gates. Serenity Street staff and the other clients were helpful during this time of my life. Eventually, I decided to leave the program before my one year commitment was completed. All was well for awhile. I took on various jobs, returned to Columbus and worked my way up to the manager position of a pizza shop. I lived in a duplex on the south side and through myself into my work. Eventually the stresses of life, the death of my dad and later my uncle (who I took care of) led me down a dark lonely road that led to drinking.
I did not believe I had a problem with alcohol, I never drank previously and I had not done drugs for nearly seventeen years. It wasn’t long before I knew the drinking was spiraling out of control and old thoughts of drug use crept in. I checked into Maryhaven’s detoxification unit. After leaving treatment, I contacted Serenity Street to see if I could come back to their program. They accepted me back and I began my journey of recovery once again.
I graduated from Serenity Street in 2010 and Terry Kelley must have seen something in me because he asked me to stay on in the role of House Manager. Nearly four years later I am still here. I would not have it any other way. I believe that God used my prison time to prepare me for the role I play today within the Serenity Street Foundation. I am accustomed to the chaos that comes with men living under one roof. I make every effort possible in my approach to deal with each resident one to one. I am strict when it comes to the rules, firm in the enforcement of the rules and regulations, yet fair. Eventually a bond of trust is gained and we have some very good peer to peer counseling sessions that I have come to treasure. It is rewarding to see the guys break free from the “victim” mentality and embrace a personal relationship with God and make positive changes in their life. This breakthrough is even more special in the area of reconciling estranged relationships with children and loved ones. I look forward to being a part of the expansion of our operations that will be happening soon. This expansion is much needed and will enable us to help more men. I believe in the mission of this Foundation and as long as there are men who are honest, open-minded, willing to change – and teachable – I hope Serenity Street is available to assist in their recovery.