Reuben Winston is a Direct Client Care worker at Adult & Teen Challenge Ohio Valley, a position he’s held for nearly five years after coming to the agency as a client in 2016. “I just love working with addicts and people who were like me,” he said. “I love working with them.”
Reuben, 45, a Youngstown native, was a heroin user who was selling drugs to make money. He got into trouble with the law and ended up at a shelter where he met a pastor who persuaded Reuben to go to ATCOV. Reuben knew about the program years earlier but didn’t think he needed it. “In my mind I was like in denial,” he said.
Although Reuben attended church as a child, he didn’t have much of a foundation of Christianity as an adult. The transition into accepting it as part of his life took some time after arriving at ATCOV.
“It took like four or five months before I completely surrendered and just gave in and started to do what the Lord had for me,” he said. Reuben now has a personal relationship with his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that he lacked before. “I believe in a higher power than myself and anything else and that belief is what keeps me going every day,” he said.
Before that, Reuben didn’t have much to keep him going and even attempted suicide in 2015. Now he’s accountable for his actions and has ethics and morals that he didn’t have before. “I think before I act,” Reuben said. “I had anger issues also besides being addicted to heroin. It just helped me be more self-controlled in my life by reading the Bible and getting Scriptures down and practicing it in my everyday life.”
He says he plans to stay at ATCOV for as long as the Lord will have him there. Reuben enjoys helping people who face the same struggles he did and helping them restore their lives. “It makes me feel good because I sold drugs for over 20 years besides using,” he said. He sold crack cocaine and heroin, racking up multiple drug trafficking charges. “But God changed my life,” Reuben said. “He saved me. Without God, I wouldn’t even be here. I would be dead or in prison.”
When ATCOV staff saw Reuben’s turnaround, they approached him about staying and working as an intern after graduation. He wasn’t sure at first. “I just started thinking about it,” Reuben said. “And I was like, I’ve been ripping people’s lives apart for years. I want to truly help someone become a better person…I just wanted to help people.”