My name is Stas and I am the Director of Youth & Family Development at The McShin Foundation. There was a point in time where I thought my life was over. I was homeless. My family wouldn’t talk to me. I had no money. I had pawned all of my possessions. And I was still looking for drugs. One night, I climbed out of a dumpster looking deranged, with cuts from broken glass on my hands and arms, and a security guard stood in front of me. All he said was, “I don’t know what you’re doing, I’m not going to call the police, but you need to get out of here and get help.” Then he left. I got high and called my dad to tell him my genius plan was to hitchhike across America and grow weed in Seattle. He told me I’m an idiot and need to reach out to someone who can help.
I called the only recovery person I knew would answer my call, John, a friend at The McShin Foundation. John told me to come home to Virginia, where the love is. I took a 23-hour train ride from Florida to Virginia the next day – and got high for the last time as the train was boarding. Upon arrival to Virginia I did a cold turkey detox over the next 3 days, which forever ingrained the pain of withdrawal in my brain. The first week I was weak, the second week I was determined to never again have to go through what I had just gone through.
From that point forward I looked outward to help others, and inward to heal myself. I surround myself with mentors in recovery, in business, and in life, and I aim to mentor others. After being in recovery for 6 months, I realized that too many young people were dying and that not enough was being done to help them. After John and I visited Archway Academy I got the itch to start a recovery school, with the expertise of The McShin Foundation. With the support of my network and mentors, that dream became a reality in Richmond, VA in January 2016. Our first semester, we helped nine students change their lives. All four of our seniors graduated, seven of our students stayed clean from their first day, and the two that slipped remained in recovery after their slip. Recovery has given me the chance to use my negative experiences to positively influence others. Recovery has given me the opportunity to rebuild relationships with family and friends. Recovery has given me the hope that anything is possible and more importantly, recovery has given me my life back.