Recovering drug addict delivers free meals

Derek Beasley (left) with his friend, mentor and boss, Pat Reed, at Angie’s Firehouse Tavern in Belmont. CONTRIBUTED
Derek Beasley (left) with his friend, mentor and boss, Pat Reed, at Angie’s Firehouse Tavern in Belmont. CONTRIBUTED

He is grateful that boss believed in him.

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Derek Beasley is grateful that Pat Reed decided to take a chance on him two years ago. Reed gave the recovering drug addict a job at Angie’s Firehouse Tavern in Dayton’s Belmont neighborhood.

It turned out to be a good decision. Beasley was promoted to manager six months ago.

“I’m not one of those kinds of people who have to see that box checked on the application, ‘Have you ever been convicted of anything?’ said Reed, a retired Dayton fire captain who owns the restaurant. “I’d rather meet them in person, and decide after a face-to-face conversation.”

But for Beasley, a Dayton resident, it has been a very long and winding road to that management position.

“I started using weed when I was 11 years old, hanging out with what I thought were the cool people,” said Beasley. “By the time I was 14, I was using needles to get high.”

One year later he was into ecstasy and LSD at the same time, and by the time he was 17 he had discovered the addicting highs of heroine.

“It was all downhill from there. It was like I had found the best thing in the world; nothing else mattered,” said Beasley.

There were many pivotal points over the next several years: dirty needles, overdoses, jail, rehab, back to prison, and homelessness.

“When I got arrested the last time, I was tired of the way I was living. I stayed clean in prison, and there were lots of opportunities to use inside,” said Beasley. “When I finally got out and into a halfway house I hit the ground running, in a good way.”

He’s been out of prison almost three years now; and he’s stayed sober over the last five.

“I met Pat in March of 2014. He has been a huge piece of my life. I don’t know if I would be as well off if he hadn’t put up with me,” said Beasley.

Reed not only gave him a chance at a job, he gave him a place to live in an apartment above the restaurant. He currently lives in one of Reed’s rental properties.

“It was rough there for awhile; at one point I had to fire him,” said Reed. “But it was a wakeup call for him, and he really got it together. I never saw such a transformation. Six months later I promoted him to manager.”

Beasley was so grateful for the turnaround in his life, he wanted to spread his joy to others this past Thanksgiving. He decided to bag up about 100 lunches to give out to the homeless and people in shelters.

“It was me, my girlfriend and a work friend going around. A grown man holding a sign cried when we gave him the bag of food,” said Beasley. “There was this little lady in a wheelchair, and she just lit up when she saw us. It felt good to help, but it was sad.”

Beasley is also attending Clark State University and just finished his second semester with high grades. He attends regular 12-step recovery meetings. He’s very humble about what he’s accomplished.

“I could never give back the hurt I’ve caused my family and my friends over the years. I’m just trying to do what I should have been doing my whole life anyway,” said Beasley. “Ultimately it’s up to the individual to change his life, but it doesn’t come easily. You have to push yourself, and try to stay diligent and consistent.”

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