Turnaround: Jackson man helps others who are in recovery

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Introduced to alcohol and other substances at a young age, Riley Kidd knows only too well the havoc these cause.

“It felt like it was the way life was supposed to be,” he says. “I was never really concerned about the effects of alcohol or any other illicit drug would have on my body but I now see the effects it had on my mind were so severe it altered my behavior and caused me to do very destructive things.”

He recalls playing hooky with friends in 11th grade, and drinking all day. Taking beer from a store cooler, he left without paying.

“I didn't care if I got caught or not,” he says. “The police had just driven by but it didn't bother me.

“We starting trashing a bus stop, breaking glass. I was into martial arts so I attempted to do a roundhouse kick to break the glass on the shelter but I slipped and fell in glass.”

He then jumped in the middle of the street to play “chicken” with an oncoming bus.

“I screamed out to my boys, ‘Watch how much of a beast I am—I'm not going to move.’ At the last moment, the bus was able to get over, missing me as I was celebrating telling my friends how much I'm a G winning the chicken game. I wonder what would have happened if that bus had had cars at its side and wasn't able to move over.

“I had no care for my life—no value of my life,” he adds. “I did reckless things but I really didn't care, especially when I was under the influence. I don't believe in luck—I know for a fact I'm here by God's good grace and that was one of the many times of a suicide attempt.”

Kidd notes that substances affect the mind and alter behavior. “It really takes you out of reality and creates a new one, and how you must really feel to want to do that,” he says. “I remember feeling empty, feeling like I had no worth.”

There were several traumatic events that caused Kidd to abuse substances, including the tragic death of a friend.

“I was at my house, in my room drinking, when I heard a gunshot and then I seen somebody run out of my friend's house across the street. It only took me a minute to get downstairs and run over there to see what was going on,” he says. “My friend had been playing with a gun and shot himself in the head—it was one of the most graphic things I’ve ever seen.”

A Detroit native, Kidd moved to Jackson in 2015, to rebuild his life after a traumatic divorce.

“I had lost everything and was even separated from my children—I didn't have a driver's license so it was difficult to go see them,” he says. “I didn't have a job. I literally had nothing. It felt like I was less than a man because I stayed with my mother sleeping on her couch.

“But even through all the trials and tribulations I had to endure, I still held onto Jesus Christ for he has given me the faith to not turn away from him and not to return to my old ways because I came too far. I received so much internally and I didn't want to be a hypocrite to preach one thing, live one way, only to fall back—because that also damages others’ view not only of you but of the faith in God, and in my case that's who I represent.”

Kidd studied at Liberty University, a private evangelical university in Lynchburg, Va., and one of the largest Christian universities in the world.

“I wanted to enhance my understanding of biblical truths, evangelism, and theology so I would be prepared for the ministry God was calling me into,” he says.

Looking for places to volunteer in Jackson, Kidd came across Home of New Vision/Jackson Recovery Resource Center. He went on to be trained in the Peer Support Program, and assigned to help a person in recovery.

He then attended Jackson Area Recovery Community (JARC) meetings to see how to get involved and to help in other areas.

“I'm passionate about the work because I’ve seen the traumatic affects drugs have on people—how it destroys families, friends, and jobs—and because I’ve life experience with addiction but now I’ve life experience in recovery,” he says.

“To see people’s lives changed and families brought back together, and different parts of their lives they felt they lost have been restored, is a blessing in itself, but ultimately I'm glad I get to do what God has called me to do in various ways in different areas of people’s lives.

“It's really rewarding when people are free from victimization, traumatic experiences, having that impoverished way of thinking, and living in violence and chaos.”

As a Recovery Coach, Kidd finds it rewarding to help those in need, or to connect them with detox or treatment or other support.

“But it's also rewarding in its learning capacity, because I've learned a lot about how to be flexible and receptive towards others,” he says.

He runs a program through MDOC/Community Corrections where the Jackson County Adult Treatment Court refers people to Habilitation Empowerment, Accountability Therapy (H.E.A.T.), held at Family Services and Children's Aid. This culturally proficient program, for people on probation or an alternative to prison or jail, is the first of its kind in Michigan, with a curriculum geared towards people of black African-American minority status who are over-represented in the judicial system.

A Christian rapper and producer, Kidd also reaches people through music. He has two albums—Recovery Out Loud and “Voice 4 The Broken”— on digital outlets, under his Christian rap name Brotha Minista. He has traveled in several states, using music to reach out to different communities.

“I traveled with a team called the Extreme Tour in 2016 and went to five to six different states and visited plenty of cities,” he says. “I made a lot a friends who even invited me to feature their songs, and flew me out to play large-scale events.”

Kidd has a Christian independent label, Calvary Cross Records, currently on hold as he focuses on other endeavors. 

“So now I just go out as a solo artist and partner with others,” he says. “One day I’ll start it back up once I find other believers who not only like to do the music but love the mission.”

Last year, Kidd performed at Comedy Magic Night in Jackson, a fundraiser for the Recovery Outloud Walk held every August.

“That was an awesome night—we had Boyer the Magic Guy and I was the first performer to go on,” he says. “I was very honored to be able to do something of this magnitude for the recovery community, to speak out and give hope—the music plays a big part in the community.”

Kidd will continue to partner with Outreach events at churches and homeless shelters, or will create new events. In 2016, he and a friend created “Hope for the Hood Michigan,” using their talents and musical abilities to minister at shelters, and invited organizations to come and talk about resources. The Home of New Vision and Jackson Area Recovery Community provided huge support at the first event.

A member of Mt. Calvary House of Prayer in Jackson, Kidd also serves as Outreach Coordinator at Raven-Brook Recovery Church. Here he co-leads, with Aaron Cypret, “You R”, a faith based Christ-centered support group that addresses substance use disorder from a biblical perspective, and is also for those who want to share their faith. The “R” has several meanings, including Repairable, Resilient, Renewed, Reinstated, Redeemed, Recovering, and Restored.

Kidd also leads PARM—Prevention Accountability Recovery Maintenance—a group for men where different topics are read and discussed.

“This group is also geared towards letting the men pour out their heart, giving them a place to share some tears and to let their emotions go, to feel comfortable—some may not feel they can cry or show emotions around others,” he says.

“Self control for men that I’ve seen has been a bit of a problem. What needs to be addressed is the difference between your wise mind and your emotion mind, especially during that first part of recovery. Some may enter into relationships and their emotions are all over the place or other things may trigger them.”

Kidd has worked with several local organizations, including the Save Our Youth Back To School Jam; a God’s Love concert at the Hub Teen Center; has performed for two consecutive years at the Recovery Out Loud Walk; and partnered with several churches, including City of Zion, St John's UCC, First Congregational, Noah's Ark  and Solid Rock Church.

Kidd, who has also had done ministry in Detroit, Kalamazoo, and Ypsilanti, as well as in Kentucky and Tennessee, has embraced Jackson as his home.

 “I enjoy the smallness of Jackson and its rural areas and all of the different activities that are available for adults and children,” he says.

 In his leisure time, he loves music, and is always creating music for himself or producing music for someone else.

“I like to play video games, especially with my kids because we get pretty competitive!,” he says.

“I like to read my Bible and other things that may be relative, and recovery related things.”

His future goals include reaching out even further, taking the ministry inside prisons, jails, juvenile detention centers, and alternative schools.

“Because they need hope and help, redemption and recovery as well,” he says.



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