Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Specialist, Business Owner
“It doesn’t matter what you’ve been through, it’s how you come through,” says Tony Moore – dedicated mental health counselor, business owner, basketball coach, family man, and former five-time prison inmate.
In Moore’s fifth and final term in prison, he was inspired to break his life cycle in drugs and crime when his young daughter wrenched his heart by asking, “Daddy, why can’t you come home and take care of me?” He responded by immersing himself in a program for inmates to transition to a productive life.
Moore went on to become certified and employed as an Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) prevention specialist. In time, he also created a plan to found a business that would offer former prisoners the kind of help that was critical to his transformation--counseling, networking, and other resources.
It doesn't matter what you've been through, it's how you come through.
“I needed more training to manage both the clinical and administrative aspects, and a bachelor’s or master’s degree was becoming required more often in my field,” Moore said. How, he wondered, could he attend college, be a clinician, run a business, and live up to his responsibilities to his family and team at the same time?
The answer was Springfield College School of Human Services (SHS) weekend program. “Very quickly, my life became simpler as SHS taught me how to manage my time. I also learned how successful companies run--systems, structures, human resources, programming. As I applied my learning, more doors opened. Plus, my work experience earned undergraduate credit, which accelerated earning my degree.
“I became a better student at age 49 than I was at 21. The faculty was open-hearted. The students--all adults who had faced setbacks in life--were like a brotherhood helping each other. I was driven. I knew what I wanted to accomplish,” Moore said.
Today, Moore’s nonprofit business Birds of a Feather, and his for-profit business with state contracts, have served dozens of ex-offenders, whom he well understands. But, being in a place where he could make such impact didn’t come easily. By age 35, he had spent 18 years in prison. Between incarcerations, he had been shot nine times. “Drugs and crime were my life, and I saw no reason to change. But, because of my relationship with God, and the miracles that he has given me, I have come this far and cannot turn around now.
“I believe that anybody can be successful if you believe in yourself. You’re never too old to make the sacrifices and take the risks to be an example to others and to inspire children. Every day, I ask myself and my clients, ‘Why haven’t you reached your full potential?’ That gives me my drive. It’s overwhelming when people say to me, ‘You helped me find myself, and I thank you’.”