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(KTVI) – An Army veteran reveals how he made it off the streets and off crack cocaine.  He’s now in his own place for the first time years.

Melvin McGhee made this year’s Thanksgiving meal from scratch.  He says it wasn’t hard.  Hard is how McGhee had it while recently homeless.  Last year at this time, he was addicted to crack and someone nearly shot him because of it.

McGhee said, “I was going to buy drugs and got robbed.”  Reporter Chris Hayes asked, “You thought he was going to kill you?” McGhee responded, “Yes I did because he had a gun right in my side.”

He says the key to his turnaround was giving up control, “I had to have the right people to help me get out of there.  Sometimes you try to do things on your own and it never works, just like trying to get off of drugs.  I thought I could to do it by myself and I couldn’t.”

McGhee says he was always looking for a way out when someone gave him a laptop. He said he carried it around when he was homeless and he`d connect to WiFi at places like City Garden, so that he could work on an online bachelor`s degree.

But he said he couldn’t get off drugs as long as he continued staying with his old friends.  Then he went through rehab, got a job working as a banquet server, and rented a new place with the help of a jump start from St. Patrick Center, which paid his rental deposit and first month.  Seven months later, it’s like he’s been here forever.

Kathleen Nelson stopped by and commented, “At St. Patrick Center we like to say we give people a hand up and not a hand out.  Melvin took the hand we reached for and he pulled himself up and when you walk in a house like this and it’s so nice and you see the spread he’s able to put out there and you think, less than a year ago, he was without a home and he got himself back on his feet.  It makes our jobs worthwhile.”

McGhee pays for everything himself now. He walked me through his place and said, “My new thing is clothes now so, this is my closet, shoes you know.” Hayes commented, “So it’s been a long time since you`ve had something like this.”  McGhee answered, “Yes, it has been.”

He prepared the Thanksgiving feast for his new friends.  McGhee looks at this Thanksgiving as a new beginning.

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