Richard Smith grew up in St. Augustine, Florida where he was raised by his grandmother. “My mom gave us up, and that lack of love led me to the streets. I had a good job, but I just got greedy. Money becomes a drug too, and I got lost in it all. There is no excuse other than that.”
“Going away humbles you. Nobody likes being told what to do. But with a sober mind, I had a chance to think. I turned to God and found a good support system.”
After serving a year and a day at the Lake Butler Correctional Facility for selling cocaine, Richard came to Operation New Hope’s Ready4Work program in 2008. “A lot of people have judged me by my past rather than looking at what I could be. But Operation New Hope was different. They taught me that you can have a Second Chance. I learned you can’t make excuses. You have to keeping moving and it’s never too late. There is hope!”
Since graduating Ready4Work, Richard has committed his life to hard work and forgiveness. “Forgiveness is the way. God has forgiven all my mistakes, and so I had to forgive my mom.” Richard shared that he and his mother recently found their way back together, and they now have a strong relationship.
Richard has been working for a local waste management company since 2016 and is now in the Customer Service Department. He is married and has 3 children. “A good woman is hard to come by. My wife has helped me stay on the right path. I now spend my free time giving back. I work with at risk youth and I’m a part of an outreach
ministry that goes to at risk areas to share the love of Christ. I also am in a gospel rap group called “Iron Sharpens Iron Music” on a mission to spread the love of God through music.”
Richard added with a smile, “My group of friends are really different these days.”