Tyrone King: Next Step Participant and STRIVE Graduate



Have you ever known the experience of being “stuck” in life’s ditch, in the metaphor of the Good Samaritan parable? You’re thinking, “No, not me!” but think again: All of us have been stuck, whether it’s a small “s” stuck or a big “S” stuck. We may not have been homeless or jobless or served time in prison, but we’ve all been stuck!

Tyrone King is a DC resident and returning citizen who knows what it’s like to be existentially stuck in life’s ditch. Tyrone had a solid start as a theater student at Duke Ellington School for the Arts, graduating at 17, soon to become the first in his family to attend college. But while attending college, Tyrone fell into his own ditch of drugs and alcohol. After dropping out of college, he returned to DC at the height of the ‘90s crack epidemic and was incarcerated at age 21. Alone, ashamed, and grief-stricken (he lost most of his original family while incarcerated), Tyrone was existentially stuck – with thoughts of ending it all through suicide.

At the bottom of his ditch, Tyrone said he found God’s grace, his own grit, and a faithful friend – all of which led him to recover his faith, earn an Associate degree, and prepare for life after release. After 28 years and five parole attempts, he was released. Due to the strong testimony Tyrone heard from other returning citizens in our Next Step program, one of his first calls was to Samaritan Ministry – and because we were so quick to respond, he was all in!

When Tyrone connected with Next Step caseworker Sophia Nalty, she immediately began equipping him to navigate the digital world, which previously was so foreign but necessary to him, given our digital dependency for training delivery during the pandemic. Then she enrolled Tyrone in STRIVE employment training – which he completed a month later – landing his first job at Whole Foods; he’s now moved on to Trader Joe’s, thanks to the work of our Employer Specialist Diane Quinn. But more than landing a job, Tyrone is – thanks to YOU – envisioning his future, which includes a hoped-for return to writing and performing plays for the theater!

Next Step participants typically come to Samaritan Ministry stuck – and there are two factors that determine their success in becoming “unstuck.” One is their ability to claim their stuck-ness; the other, their ability to accept the “rigorous compassion” we offer through Next Step coaching and STRIVE employment training. This may sound simple, but that doesn’t make it easy. The work required to make meaningful change in one’s life is substantial. But if a participant accepts the coaching, they almost always are committed to the work required to make the change they seek. This is certainly true for Tyrone. Tyrone was all in from the start but the Next Step coaching and STRIVE training he received was all there to support him.

What Tyrone did and what we do for all Next Step participants is simple, but it isn’t easy. We offer rigorously compassionate coaching and training, but it is the participants who weave it into the fabric of their lives. This is a choice, but a choice that participants like Tyrone make all the time! On behalf of Tyrone and all whom we serve, thank you for your partnership that allows us to empower more participants to be “all in” for the change they want to see in their lives. And now, this is your opportunity to be “all in” with us.

Watch Tyrone’s testimony at the 2023 Next Step Breakfast: