This is dedicated to Travis Holappa who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on July 25, 2004 in Northern Minnesota. This was all due to meth. I am Travis' mother and I wish to make this devastation turn into a better thing by educating and exposing the truth about meth, the dangers, and the deadly consequences it brings about to individuals and communities.

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Location: Colorado, United States

I want to do what I can to educate people about what is going on around the world with the meth problem. I want people to know about it BEFORE they even get the idea to want to try it. It is a dangerous drug and will ruin your life as well as all those who love you. I am on a mission on behalf of my only son, Travis.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Opportunity leads to a new life for father of three

PHIL ROONEY, Staff Writer

Things are looking up these days for Jason Still and his three children.

It hasn't always been this good for the 29-year-old Council Bluffs man.

Still hit bottom on Dec. 23, 2003, when his drug problems led to an arrest. His choices were a cell or drug court.

A series of bad choices had landed him in his predicament, but this time Still got it right. He chose drug court.

Still said he fell into drug use - methamphetamine was his poison of choice - after he separated from his wife. The youngest of their three children was 6 months old at the time, a little less than six years ago.

He quit the job he'd held at Wilson Concrete and started staying with his children at his mother's home. With no real home of their own, the family was part of the area's homeless statistics, which last year totaled 447 children in the Council Bluffs School District.

"I didn't care about nothing but the drugs," Still said.

Then came the arrest.

"At the time I was arrested it was 'I got caught.' By the time I was through drug court, 'I was saved,'" he said.

After first wanting to do his time so he could get out and return to his old lifestyle, drug court taught Still how to care about himself.

"When you're an active drug addict your first response is to say what they want you to say," he said.

That changed with the drug court program. He was given the tools to make himself well again and soon was on his way to recovery.

Still now chairs Narcotics Anonymous meetings on Saturdays for Family Service.

A Council Bluffs native who left high school when his then-girlfriend was pregnant with their first child, he now is a concrete worker at Lumbermen's in Millard. A promotion and raise are in the works as he learns his craft.

He spent two years in a sobriety house while his children stayed with his mother. March will mark his first year at Transitions, the Family Service program that helps people return to society from homelessness. Already there have been milestones.

"My first Christmas here with my kids," Still said with a smile.

Still and his children, Jacob, 11, Taylor, 8, and Cody, 6, made it complete with their own Christmas tree.

"Here's pretty good," Still said of their temporary home.

The children are in school, and the Council Bluffs School District has developed a program for Jacob, a special needs child who is on medication.

"Lately he's been doing pretty good," Still said.

The boys are involved in Boy Scouts and Taylor is in gymnastics and Girl Scouts.

Still's progress hasn't gone unnoticed by the Family Service's staff.

"Jason's doing really well on the program," said Joanie Spitznagle, program coordinator for the Pottawattamie County Homeless Link. "He works really hard at it."

For Still it's a second chance at a good life. The one-on-one counseling is something he appreciates, and it helps keep him clean from meth. It's once a month unless he needs more help.

He's also taking nutrition classes and learning to cook but says he has more work to do there.

In May, he'll mark his first year on the new job and is starting to plan for the future, putting away money for the time when the family will leave Transitions. They potentially have more than a year remaining in the program, but soon can be removed from the homeless rolls.

It's a long way from where he was just three years ago when, because of methamphetamine use, his children were just people he passed in the hallway. Still is appreciative.

"This place gives you a chance to get back on your feet," he said. "Life's great."


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