Kevin Hough, age 50, grew up in West Virginia, near Charles Town. “My father left when I was 3 years old,” says Kevin. “I have one brother who is four years younger than I.
“In the sixth grade I started experimenting with drugs – pills and marijuana. When I was in seventh grade, I quit school because I wanted to go to work and make money. I worked at the race track walking and galloping horses. It was at the track that I was introduced to cocaine which was a big deal in the ’80s.
“My aunt and uncle helped me to get a job locally. At 17, I started working in Reston, Virginia as a laborer for a construction company so that I could make more money. The man who owned the company would drive us there every day. We all used every day.
“I eventually became a carpenter helping to build houses. I was able to do that much closer to home.
“I met a lady and we got a place together. We were both smoking marijuana and drinking. I didn’t let her know about my cocaine use because I knew she wouldn’t like it.
“Eventually, my addiction took over and I lost my carpentry job. I had a hard time finding consistent work. I started using more and stealing to feed my habit. The house was eventually foreclosed on.
“I went to jail for a year for cashing a bad check. Everything was gone at that point, including my girlfriend.
“After I got out of jail, my mother and brother let me stay to get straight but I messed that up. I was homeless for about a year. I stayed in churches overnight and wandered the streets bumming money for drinks during the day.
“My Aunt Cathy stepped in and told me I could do better for myself and encouraged me to get help. After I found out about Helping Up Mission, my family drove me to Baltimore.
“Once I joined HUM’s Spiritual Recovery Program, I was ready to get started! I realized that all that time, God had been leading me to a different path.
“I started attending Miss Carol’s weekly art class. I appreciated it because it gave me time to think. I also joined the choir. We were preparing to sing at the annual graduation banquet. It helped me because it allowed me to be myself.
“I used to run in High School. When I heard about Back On My Feet’s running team at the Mission, I knew I wanted to join. When I first started with the team, I couldn’t even run a mile. The first race that I completed was a 5k and now I am training to run the half marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival in October.
“When I arrived at HUM, my teeth were down to nubs because I used to grind them a lot. Through the Mission’s dental program, I was able to get a whole new set of teeth.
“I knew that I wanted to work on my education. When I first took the placement tests for the program to earn my High School Program, I couldn’t pass them. So, I started Adult Basic Education classes so that I could pass the placement tests. After passing the placement tests, I started studying and, in February of this year, I got my High School Diploma. Now, I have the confidence to have a conversation with someone and look them in the eyes.
“I started talking with HUM’s vocational coordinator about my future. He encouraged me to get a certification. I was able to get a grant and attend CCBC for a one-year heating and air conditioning certification program. There were still some expenses left to cover and I was able to get a scholarship from Central Scholarship and Back on My Feet helped me with the cost of my books. I’m signed up to the Advanced Electricity Class and then will take Commercial Refrigeration.
“While I continue my education, I am living in HUM’s graduate transitional housing. It’s a great opportunity. There is no way I’d be able to focus on my education without it.
“If I didn’t make the decision to straighten up my life, I’d still be out on the corner somewhere wishing I had done something. Living straight and living right has really changed me. I used to worry a lot about what people thought. Now that I know who I really am, I am at ease with myself.”