Sammy Harkless says he starting using marijuana for fun and peer acceptance while in junior high. But 13 years later he found himself trading his coat and shoes for vials of crack cocaine. ``The last drug I did was crack. And that's the drug that really brought me to my knees, brought me down emotionally, spiritually, everything,'' he says with visible discomfort during an interview at the Binding Together offices.

``I would go home and I would take things. I would take my mother's camera. I was even taking from my nieces and my nephews - and they looked up to me at one time. It was sad, but I didn't care. I didn't have any pity....''

Kicked out of the house by his family, Mr. Harkless eventually ended up living on the streets.

What prompted him to seek help? ``I just woke up [one] day and I said to myself, `I need help.' I was down to my last ounce of sanity. Maybe God,'' he concludes. ``I guess He was watching over me at the time.''

The next day, Harkless checked into a 18-24 month-long residential drug treatment program, one that had a short waiting list.

A former Marine, Sammy had once held a job in a bindery. When he was offered training through Binding Together during his rehabilitation, ``I jumped on it quick - not because of the money, but because it was something that I knew about and I knew that I could gain more experience from it.''

Today Sammy attends support groups, and has worked as a supervisor in the printing department of an investment firm for two years. His wife recently gave birth to their first child, a girl. Decked out in a sleek gray suit and polished shoes, he exudes an air of satisfied success.

Without Binding Together, ``I think things would have been a lot different,'' he says. ``I don't think I would have gotten this far.''

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