Episode 23:Justin Blackburn
Updated: Nov 2, 2018
"I want to help men better themselves so that they can, in turn, do what was done for them. At the age of 16, I became a complete terror! A hooligan, thug, ruffian and whatever other descriptors you can use to illustrate rebellion at its finest. I took pride in being the toughest, roughest mother…” shut your mouth,” walking. It took me down a horrible road of gangs, guns, drugs, violence, anger, you name it.I still have the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual scars, but most of all, I still have the nightmares. At the age of 17, I was sent to a men’s program and when I had my eighteenth birthday, I cried. I cried because I didn’t expect to still be alive. It was a blessing and a miracle! When I left the program, I felt a purpose, a NEED to help these young men that were destined to populate our prisons or cemeteries. It was my duty to prevent as many as I can from making the same mistakes I did, even if I was able to help just one! I decided then that I wanted to open a program! Unfortunately (or fortunately) I had no clue about starting anything such as this! I had never paid a bill, rented an apartment, held a job longer than 6 months, purchased a vehicle, nothing. I didn’t allow this to stop me and over time, I learned. I read about 501c3’s, starting a board, by-laws, incorporation laws, tax codes, donations, and fundraising. If it was in any capacity related to the non-profit sector, I read about it! All the while, I learned more about life and bad decision-making. I eventually returned to the streets and left and went back and then left again, but in 2013, God began preparing me to fulfill my purpose! My need! Up until this time, numerous situations in my life afforded me opportunities to choose which path I would take and thousands of times before, I had chosen the wrong path, but one day I began choosing differently.I could sense an inner change and over time I allowed it to flourish! My dreams began taking shape and my purpose finally seemed obtainable. FAR, but obtainable!I came to Asheville in 2014 to seek a better life. To leave drugs and alcohol alone and to find a new way to live. After my relocation, I prayed and brainstormed about what this dream, what this program, what the HOME Center for Men would look like and I think I have found a potential equation for success!! The HOME Center for Men’s model for care will be strictly based on a “quality over quantity” attitude. I have been a client of countless agencies, facilities, programs and I have had some experience on the other side as a case manager, as well, but the one common denominator has been the desire to provide services for as many clients as possible. I feel a purpose, a NEED to help young men that were destined to populate our prisons or cemeteries. I want to help them to better themselves so that they can, in turn, do what was done for them."