A Good 4 Utah story about a young man who went through his own changes and now wants to help others do the same. If you want to smile - or maybe even clap - just watch Blake Wilson interact with kids. And then watch the kids interact with Blake.
This type of fun might be what you would expect from the Youth Director of the Salvation Army of Salt Lake City. However, just a few years ago, direction was the last thing this 20-year-old from California was focused on. "I was someone who didn't have any hope for anything." And that lack of hope lead to drug and alcohol abuse. "We'd go to my friends house and spend the whole night drinking and partying. And we would wake up the next day and go about our normal business and come back in the night time and do the same thing over again."
Blake says that included a lot of hard liquor, marijuana and prescription drugs - prescribed to others. "I made a lot of really dumb choices back then." But a few years later, Blake began attending Salvation Army church services. And he says something clicked. "That is when things started changing for me. I noticed I didn't want to drink or do drugs anymore. I just wanted to focus on God and my relationship with him."
And he decided he wanted to work with kids. Blake says he knows anyone can change and become something better. He says he's living proof. "Ever since I stopped doing drugs and ever since I stopped drinking, my character has improved. My integrity has improved. My way of life - the way I look at things, now is just way different."
And while the kids involved in the Salvation Army Summer Camp programs don't know the old Blake. They know the new Blake. And they seem to love this version - a lot.
Blake now plans to attend training with the Salvation Army and become an officer. Then he will then get an assignment within the church. While he says Hawaii would be a great location - he is willing to go anywhere to serve and help others like the church helped him.