NEWARK – When John Moore was released from prison in June, the only possessions he had were a pair of prison-issued shoes, a shirt and a pair of sweatpants.
After years of addiction and two years of incarceration, he’d lost everything. But the last five months have brought people and opportunities into his life that have helped him turn things around.
On Thursday, Moore is looking forward to eating Thanksgiving dinner with his mother instead of having bland food in the prison cafeteria.
But he’s also thankful that he’s found a life that makes him happy. The Pataskala man said he can’t stop smiling, laughing and cracking jokes
“I wouldn’t change anything that happened,” he said. “It all happened for a reason. It made me a different person.”
A native of Columbus, Moore had a successful career, traveling across the country moving furniture.
But 15 years ago, he started using drugs, and his life spiraled out of control.
“It was bad,” he said. “I was going downhill so fast.”
In April 2013, he was sentenced to four years in prison for committing first- and second-degree drug felonies.
In November 2012, he got caught making methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school, according to court records.
Serving time at the Pickaway Correctional Institution, he realized he needed to turn his life around. He began participating in treatment programs and anger management classes.
He earned 19 certificates while in prison and had a variety of jobs.
At the end of May, he was granted judicial release. Shortly after he was left prison, he was offered a bed at Spencer House, a halfway house in Newark.
Moore had been through rehab programs before, but he said Spencer House made the biggest difference for him.
His counselor, Julian King, helped him immensely, he said, and the other participants were supportive.
“All those guys, I had never met any of them before, and they are some of the coolest people I’ve ever met,” he said.
He also met Donna Gibson, Bridges Out of Poverty and parent support coordinator with Mental Health America of Licking County.
She got him into a program called Getting Ahead and began talking with him about his goals.
With her encouragement, he started thinking about getting his GED certificate and going to culinary school. His ultimate dream is to open his own restaurant.
Gibson also helped him get a job through LGS Staffing, working at Accel Inc. at the New Albany Personal Care and Beauty Campus.
Several county agencies formed a partnership with LGS over the summer to help people with barriers to employment get jobs in New Albany. They arranged bus transportation to take workers from Newark to New Albany and back again at the end of their shifts.
Moore said he knows other people with felony records who have struggled to find jobs because of their backgrounds. But the people at LGS were willing to listen to his entire story, and gave him a chance.
Things have gone so well, he was offered another job opportunity with Limited Brands in Reynoldsburg.
He’s living in Pataskala with his mother, but has still been taking the bus from Newark with some of his friends from Spencer House.
“That bus helps a lot of people,” he said. “A lot of us don’t have licenses right now.”
For the last few weeks, Moore also has been moving furniture on the weekends and is thinking about picking up a third job.
He wants to help out his mother and support his 6-year-old daughter. Thinking of her keeps him motivated to continue his recovery.
“I know that I could lose everything,” he said. “I’m slowly getting back what I’ve already lost.”
Putting his life back together hasn’t been easy. But Moore said he’s grateful to have a second chance, to be out of prison and to be surrounded friends and family members who are supportive of his sobriety.
“What I’m going through totally changed my life,” he said. “I can’t go back to the way I was. I don’t want to. I like my freedom too much.”
Found in The Newark Advocate November 25, 2015