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Former heroin addict gets best Christmas present ever - a second chance

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SOUTH FAIRMOUNT, OH (FOX19) -

A business is growing in Cincinnati, but its success is about more than just the bottom line. It's about helping people whose lives have hit rock bottom due to addiction.

Earlier this year, we met a 20-year old who was headed down a dangerous path in life. But mentors and a chance to earn an honest living changed his course, and now, as the holidays are upon us, we touched base with him again.

Keifer Moreland's story could easily have ended at the age of 12. 

"I was a heroin addict, and my lifestyle was out of control," said Moreland.

In November of 2010, with the help of the City Gospel Mission, he got clean. 

And then, he got hired at Green Recycling Works, a business that works in cooperation with the Mission.  It picks up recyclables, sorts them, and sells them.  It's been up and running for 3 months now, and already lives are being changed.

For Moreland, now a 20-year-old, it's not just a job.  The company's director, former Citibank executive Matthew Long, now hires former addicts and teaches them how to hold down a job, be accountable, and rejoin society.

"It's absolutely insane. I go back and think about when I met some of these guys, and where they were coming into the Mission at that point in time, and now, I can have a business expense and reach into my pocket and hand them cash and know that it isn't going to get used for drugs," said Long.

Moreland graduated from the Mission's Exodus program, and says although he still has a long way to go, he's worked hard and had tremendous help becoming a new man.

"I'm rebuilding my relationships and I'm rebuilding my life really,"  he said.

Long goes above and beyond to help his employees succeed, making himself personally available to them 24/7, something he says makes a difference in keeping people on track.  The company also prides itself on removing some of the common stumbling blocks to people re-entering society.  They provide employees bus tokens until their first paycheck, uniforms down to the steel toe boots needed, and moral support to help them learn the ins and outs of being part of a workforce. 

"I look at Keifer and really from 12 to 19 he was a user. He was stoned," said Long. "There's no other way to describe it. And now I look at Keifer and he's 20 years old. I think back to when I was 20, what was still ahead of me in my life? And if we can keep him off of drugs and alcohol, what's ahead for him? It's tremendous." 

But ultimately the job Moreland is doing is only temporary. It is his time with Green Recycling Works, his clean drug tests, his on-time attendance and trustworthiness that will hopefully earn him a full time job and possibly lead him to a career. 

To those who may be concerned about hiring someone with a criminal record, Long says he personally stands behind his men.  After 25 years with Citibank and several more as a church pastor, Long says he knows what people want in a new hire, and the company has strict standards for its workers.

This year, Keifer Moreland and his entire family had Thanksgiving dinner for the first time in Moreland's life.  Now, as Christmas approaches, he wants only one thing.

"Just being with my family," he said. "The materialistic things are there but really the relationship with my family and that they accept me back is the biggest Christmas gift that I could receive."

Green Recycling Works needs customers in order to be successful, and ultimately employ more people recovering from addiction.  It offers great rates, and a way to give back to others at the same time.  If your organization needs a recycling service, you can reach them at 513-800-8855 or
Email: info@greenrecyclingworks.org

They're also on Facebook.

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