February 27, 2015
Ted Boyd: Cooking up a brighter future
When Ted Boyd lost his job, he didn't know what to do. But he knew what NOT to do.
"I didn't want to do anything bad," he says. "When I was younger, I went that route."
That was about 20 years ago, when he was in his late 20s and early 30s. He was arrested on a marijuana charge. That was "a life-changing experience for me." He decided to put that behind him by leaving the Columbia area and moving to Charlotte.
And for awhile, that worked. He was able to work, and had a steady income. He worked in the mental health field as a technician and as a certified nonviolent crisis intervention/CPI instructor.
But lately, that old drug charge caught up with him. And when he lost his last job, he found it impossible to get hired at a new one. He found that background checks were a lot more thorough than they were in the past, and the fact that he had been caught with more than an ounce of marijuana on him all those years ago seemed an insurmountable barrier.
"I guess when people see that," he says, it's all over.
Worse, he wasn't being much of a father to his 13-year-old daughter, who lives with her mother in Charlotte. He wasn't able to help out financially, and the Mom was "getting a little frustrated" about it. She wasn't letting him see his daughter.
So he decided to make another change: He moved back home, where he has family and therefore a support system, about four months ago. And that's where he discovered Midlands Fatherhood Coalition.
Still hunting fruitlessly for a job, he discovered the Coalition at a job fair, where it had a booth. Someone gave him a card and told him about the program and what it could do for Dads like him.
"He was so angry" when he first came to Midlands, Executive Director Angela McDuffie recalls. He'd had negative experiences with women in his life, and it had taken a toll on his ability to cope constructively.
But Midlands "helped me," Mr. Boyd recalls. From the boot camp and other elements of the program, "I learned a lot -- how to deal with the situation I'm in, to never give up." And he learned that "You can ask for help."
As a result, he "decided to just take responsibility, do something about" his predicament.
"Being around these other men that were in the same situation" was an eye-opener for him. He started telling himself, "Man, your situation's not as bad as you think it is. A lot of men out there are in as bad a situation, or worse."
He became more philosophical about his plight. "There's a reason for that journey that we go through. You can go forward... something's going to happen."
He still doesn't have a full-time job, but he's still looking. In the meantime, he brings in some money selling "gourmet" crackers that he prepares at home. They're whole-wheat saltine-type crackers that he flavors with his own secret recipe. He sells them to local businesses, such as a sports bar operated by a relative. He had initially been surprised that people liked the crackers well enough to pay for them. He shrugs: "People say these crackers go well with crab legs."
Meanwhile, the job search continues. He has a part-time position at Goodwill, but he's looking for full-time work. He's applied at some restaurants, the cracker venture having rekindled an old interest in preparing and serving food.
Best of all, he's been able to provide some support for his daughter, and has been able to spend more time with her on weekends.
From the perspective of Midlands Fatherhood Coalition, the turnaround in his attitude has been a joy to see. He has "a greatly improved relationship" with his daughter and her mother, and a positive outlook all-around.
"Having a relationship with God -- I think that's who led me here," says Mr. Boyd. And he "had to come home to find an organization like this," he says. "They didn't exist up there in Charlotte."