Keith Humes, a Miami, Florida native knows what it’s like to live in an impoverished community. “Growing up in Liberty City wasn’t easy,” says Keith. Despite having both parents in the home; Keith and his six siblings lived below the poverty line. “It wasn’t my parents, it was the environment I grew up in. Once you stepped outside that door; you’re in a whole different world.” Keith was drawn to the fast life, pimps and fancy cars. “I was always attracted to things, because I didn’t have those things growing up.” Keith had always been a critical thinker but grew up hating school. “I didn’t start liking school until I was in the sixth grade. I had a teacher who encouraged me and highlighted my strengths and not my weaknesses; she believed in me.”
It wasn’t long before Keith’s life would take a turn for the worst. His two older brothers, whom he looked up to enlisted in the U.S military. “When they left, I felt abandoned, I looked up to them.” He escaped the turmoil by enthralling himself into the street life. Keith was placed in his first juvenile detention center at the age of fourteen and by the time he was seventeen-years old, was sentenced to eighty-years in prison. His critical thinking ability, and though provoking questions enabled him to get his sentence commuted and he was released early.
"Prison is nothing but a warehouse for future gangsters," says Keith. Keith spent a total of twenty-three years in and out of prison and says, “there was no structure or opportunities for rehabilitation.” Keith like many returning citizens struggled to regain independence upon his release.
“I struggled with drug addiction. I was shooting up about two-three-hundred dollars of dope every day. I didn’t have any guidance so when I was released, I went back to what I knew."
Keith found a new venture that would fund his lifestyle. He was known around his neighborhood as the "pamper guy". “I created my own hustle. I knew a lot of the mother’s in my community relied on pampers for their young children. I had a connect that would provide me with stolen pampers, so I begin selling them at a discount to all the mothers in the community."
Keith’s drug addiction took control over his life and all he thought about was getting high. “I needed the drugs to function; I couldn’t start my morning without shooting up dope.” Keith hit a new low; one morning his daughter walked in on him shooting up. A few days later he found himself in the back of a police car on his way to prison. Keith was certain that this time he would serve a mandatory twelve-year sentence based on his prior arrests.
But something happened in that police car that he will never forget.
“I sat in the back of the police car and I begin to cry; I knew it was over for me. I had let everyone down, including my daughter.” Keith said he finally reached his lowest point and didn’t know where else to turn.
“The officer that arrested me was very kind. She said she was a Christian and asked me if I believed in God? I sarcastically replied, “God can’t help me now!!” The officer’s next words changed Keith’s life forever. She said, “he can help you now because you’re at your lowest point. God hears a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” The officer began to encourage Keith and talk about the miracles God had done in her life. “I remember reading the Bible in prison but I always read it intellectually. I never really understood the power of God.” As the officer continued to minister to Keith, he began to have a since of hope. “She led me to Christ in that car; she said you’ve turned to everything else, try Christ.”
When Keith got to the precinct, he was placed in a holding cell. “I was the oldest one there and I noticed this one guy who was clean cut and looked like he didn’t belong with us. I decided to sit next to him.” A few minutes after sitting next to this man, he began to minister to Keith the same way in which the officer did but with much more conviction. Keith was then called to be processed. When he got back, the gentleman who was speaking to him was gone. He asked the other men in the cell where he had gone? They said, "there wasn’t anyone there." In that moment, Keith knew that he had entertained an angel unaware. This encounter changed the trajectory of his life. “I finally gave up and surrendered my life over to Christ. The devil took everything I had. I had nothing left!!”
The next morning, Keith woke up expecting to be extremely ill due to his heroin addiction but instead all he had was a sniffle. “I never looked backed. I was completely delivered from my heroin addiction and have never used again.” As the months quickly passed, Keith gained a new perspective on life. He initially expected to do twelve years. But the favor of God was on his life and he only did nine months; three of the nine months were voluntary. “When I went to court for my release, I told the judge, I had a serious drug addiction and I was afraid of myself. I told her, if they send me out there without any drug program, I will die!”
While his peers looked at him foolishly for volunteering to stay in prison. Keith knew where he had been. He knew, he never wanted to go back, to that old life. He had made up his mind; he was going to change and with God on his side all things were possible. Keith remained in prison for three additional months and was finally placed in a halfway house called Foundations. Foundations was different from all the other halfway houses he had ever been too. “This halfway house had structure and provided returning citizens with goals towards gaining independence.
“I finally gave up and surrendered my life over to Christ. The devil took everything I had; I had nothing left.”
After being released from Foundations halfway house, Keith was offered a full-time position. He quickly began advocating for returning citizens and implementing various programs to help them reintegrate into their community. Keith met his wife several years later and she encouraged him to start his own halfway house. He already had the personal experience, as well as the compassion that is needed to work with people whom are hurting.
Keith shows us all that redemption is possible, he celebrated his sixty-fourth birthday a few months ago. As he looks back and reflects on his twenty-four years of redemption, he is reminded of his favorite scripture Romans 8:28, which says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Keith now owns one of the largest halfway houses in Florida with over one-hundred and twenty beds. He also flips properties and has residential and commercial buildings all over Florida. He ministers at the shelter five days a week and travels across the country helping other people setup halfway houses. “There is grace over my life, I never judge anyone, I know how far I’ve come," says Keith.