Driving toward success

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2005

In early February, Roslyn Miller received a bulletin from East End Baptist Church, which she’s attended for over 40 years. Checking it over, the retired city schoolteacher noticed that the church would be giving away a free car, donated by John Croston, cousin of East End Rev. Mark Croston.

Roslyn’s thoughts went straight to her son, Kenny. After graduating from Lakeland High School in 1991, Kenny had briefly attended Norfolk State University, then spent two years in the Army. Since then, he’d worked one job after another.

Unfortunately, he’d embarked on the wrong social path over the next few years. In 2001, Kenny was arrested for drug possession.

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&uot;That was just hanging out with the wrong crowd,&uot; he says, sitting in his mom’s Truman Road home. Kenny managed to stay out of trouble for the next year, and the charges were dropped. But in May of 2004, they came back, as he was arrested again. This time, he had to go to a drug court program. Three times a week, he has to attend group sessions. Twice a week, he visits a probation officer. Once a week, Kenny speaks one-on-one with a counselor.

&uot;It’s intense,&uot; he says. &uot;We share information and problems, and we learn better diction. I don’t say I’m the best one; I’m just doing what I’m supposed to be doing. If you mess up, they put you out of the program.&uot;

He weathered all the requirements, and got a job at the Smithfield Packing Plant in January. But he had to drive his mother’s car to work.

Roslyn gave her son, who is himself a lifelong member of the church and was baptized at age nine by Rev. Victor Davis, the bulletin, and told him to apply for the vehicle.

&uot;I had faith in God that he would receive it,&uot; she says.

Kenny sat down to write out his application.

&uot;I was a member, and I worked in Smithfield,&uot; he says, describing what he wrote. &uot;I struggled with rides; my mom needed her car. I had faith that God’s not going to give up on me now. Whoever got it, I knew it would be well-deserved.&uot;

On March 6, Roslyn attended the church’s 8 a.m. service. Someone came up to her and said that Croston needed to see Kenny. Soon after, Kenny called the reverend.

&uot;I asked him if I’d won the car,&uot; Kenny says. &uot;He told me to be in church next Sunday, and wear a suit.&uot;

He went to the early service. Croston told him to stand up.

&uot;He told me that I’d gotten the car,&uot; Kenny says. &uot;But he didn’t give me the keys until after the 11 a.m. service.&uot;

The next day, he and his mother went to Croston’s house to get the car – a 1992 Cadillac DeVille, complete with new plates, stickers, battery, changed oil, a full tank of gas, and an inspection.

&uot;It was a lovely feeling,&uot; says Kenny, who took his fiancee’ Tiffany for a ride to Chesapeake Square Mall to celebrate. &uot;It rides smoothly.&uot;

He’s still participating in the drug court program, and it’s unclear as to how much longer he’ll have to be there.

&uot;But I’m not concerned about that,&uot; he says. &uot;I’m getting what I need to be getting. I have peace of mind; my life’s coming together. I just figure that God’s working my life through the program and blessing me.&uot;