Meet Keith R. Johnson: Counselor

By Sonya Schweitzer

Keith R. Johnson does not believe in coincidence and that everything, good, bad, colossal, or
minuscule, has a purpose. If you look at his career and the path that has led him to become a
counselor in our Long-Term Recovery Program, it is easy to see why.

“Originally, I was on the other side of the spectrum: addicted, homeless, unemployed, felon”,
Keith admits. Due to his record, his latest offense would leave him in prison for 10 years.
However, Keith was lucky. Prince George’s County launched a new program where if you were
arrested in a High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, they’d give you a chance for recovery instead
of a prison sentence. “I wasn’t seeking recovery, but you take recovery over 10 years.”

In this program, Keith found recovery and a new purpose. When given an assignment to share
his life story, he stood up and read in front of the whole group, leaving everyone inspired and
the addictions counselor demanding he enter ministry. “For the first time in my life, I listened to
somebody,” Keith shared. He went back to school and launched his own church while also
working part-time for the International Trade Commission.

Once in ministry, Keith was looking for service opportunities and discovered Samaritan Inns.
Starting as a regular Dinner Fellowship Program volunteer with his church group, Keith inspired
residents with his story and with the ways he was able to relate and speak to theirs.

In late 2018, when the government shut down, Keith found himself out of work and losing his
purpose. That’s when his wife suggested that he go to Samaritan Inns and ask if they need
anything. The timing couldn’t have been better; Samaritan Inns just launched the new Men’s
Transitional Living Program and needed someone to lead meetings and groups. Keith jumped at
the opportunity and became a certified peer specialist. As that program stabilized, Keith moved
into the Long-Term Recovery Program where he continues to inspire residents and help them
on their journey.

Now, seven years into his journey with Samaritan Inns, Keith remains as passionate for the
work and mission as he did on day one.

“There’s a magic in it. Whatever you’re going through, whatever you’re feeling, whatever the financial, mental, emotional, or physical situation you come into the organization with, by the time you leave, you’ve forgotten all of that because of the way you’re able to help others,” Keith shares, “I fell in love with Samaritan Inns, and they fell in love with me. Now, they can’t get
rid of me!”

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