Matt Hepfl works as the packing room supervisor at Adult & Teen Challenge Ohio Valley, making display models for Hershey and L’Oreal, one of the main ways the organization generates revenue.
He came to ATCOV as a client on July 15, 2015, completed the program the following year and immediately joined the staff. “I fell in love with Teen Challenge,” he said. “I fell in love with the camaraderie that happens here. I didn’t know it at the time growing up, but I have always been a leader. I was just leading people in the wrong direction. Once I got the Lord to, kind of, hone me in and try to live a righteous life, I was able to be a real mentor to a lot of the guys who are coming to the program.”
Now 36, Matt started using drugs, particularly methamphetamines, when he was 13. A Barberton, Ohio native, Matt came to ATCOV after being arrested on a drug offense and sentenced to six months in the Stark County Jail. After about 45 days, he met another inmate, a young man who, despite his circumstances, always had a smile on his face and prayed regularly. Matt wanted to be like that. One day, he joined the young man in prayer. “Something inside of me changed that day,” he said.
He found ATCOV through a pastor that his mother met. “Once I got here to the facility, it was a life-changing experience,” Matt said. “From where I was at to where I am now, there’s no comparison.”
Matt describes himself before coming to ATCOV as hopeless—a junkie, a deadbeat father, a liar and a thief. The only consistency in his life was finding ways to get high.
Shortly after arriving at ATCOV, he signed custody of his children over to their maternal grandmother. “The whole time I was a client and as an intern, I was praying every day at the altar, ‘God, help me become a father. Help me be a part of my kids’ life,’” he said. Two years later, he got temporary custody of two of his children while living in an apartment at ATCOV.
“God started that restoration,” Matt said. “He started to answer all of my prayers.” He then reached out to the mother of his other child who had overdosed. She wanted to change her life and she enrolled in and completed an ATCOV women’s program. God restored the relationship and Matt and Jessica married in 2019. “I have custody of all of my kids at this point and then we just had a baby last year,” Matt said. “We just bought a house.”