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BROKEN LIVES || Born to be bad?

Published: Mon, November 1, 2010 @ 12:01 a.m.

How compromises begin: The men tell their stories



Anthony Sanders is wary of what he says, even within the protective walls of Ohio Valley Teen Challenge. The men he has wronged are the kind who carry loaded weapons and do not easily let go of a grudge.

“Stuff does happen to people when they talk too much,” he cautions. “I pray there’s no repercussions.” Greg Todd knows all too well that people will talk. His bad reputation growing up in East Liverpool follows him today.

Sitting at OVTC, he rests his head against his clasped hands, his eyes fixed on the table. He recalls the cement cell in the Columbiana County Jail where he sat on a thin bed sheet over a stiff mattress covering a metal rack. In all his life, he had never felt so alone.

“Literally jumping out of my skin,” he remembered. “There was no one I could call. There was no one.”

As Bob Pavlich sits behind his OVTC desk, air whistles through his nasal passage. He squeezes the tip of his nose between his thumb and index finger. It’s the lingering irritation in his nasal passages caused by years of cocaine use, which has left a dime-sized hole in his septum. We are all on a path in life. Not all paths are perfect.

For Todd, Sanders and Pavlich, their paths that were laden with drugs and crime all started with seemingly harmless compromises as young boys.

Pavlich, 32, is now an ordained pastor and director of operations at OVTC, working up the group’s ranks after being a graduate himself. But in Poland — as a kid — he was a thug.

Sanders, 23, is from the west side of Warren. He is a resident at OVTC. Like many of the men, he has a child waiting for him after rehabilitation and family relationships to reconcile.

Todd, 32, is in between roles at OVTC. He has graduated from OVTC and is following in the footsteps of Pavlich.

Todd is currently a staff supervisor for one of the program’s work outfits. Todd grew up in what he calls a good home with happily married parents.

“Dad worked hard every day. Mom was a stay-home mom.”

Todd is the youngest of three children. His sister is seven years older, his brother 11 years older. He said he felt like an only child because of the age gap.

He received good grades in school. He played baseball from age 8 and picked up football at 14.

Sanders’ childhood was the opposite. His was filled with contempt.

“My parents divorced,” Sanders said. “Me and my brother, we stuck close. ... We chose to live with my dad.”

Sanders, 10 at the time, takes credit for raising his brother, who was three years younger. Sanders, in turn, said he was raised at the bar his dad owned.

“My dad always had money,” he said. “It was so easy for me growing up to never have to worry about running out of money ’cause I would just go rob dad.”

At 14, Sanders would stay at a friend’s place and sneak into his father’s house. He knew every creak in every step. He slipped into his father’s wallet and took $200 to $300 each time. Pavlich grew up in Poland with supportive parents like Todd’s and without the worry of money, like Sanders.

His family’s history gave no indication of the troubles he would encounter.

“No drugs, no alcohol, no anything,” Pavlich said. “I come from a good family.”

At 11, he was golfing with his dad. He pitched for his baseball team. He was an active child and received encouragement from his family.

“I remember as a kid, me and my dad used to go bowling like every Friday night. You know, because we’d have bowling league on Saturday.”

Summers were spent vacationing. Pavlich recalls golfing on the nicest courses Myrtle Beach offered.

“Actually, I had a real good life. Just your typical ... Poland kid.” Pavlich remembers his first car, a humble 1984 Celebrity.

“Thinking I was sweet, pulling the seats back, ’cause I was a gangsta,” he said through a sarcastic laugh.

“Wearing my hat crooked and living in Poland. You know, people still do that these days, and it makes me laugh.”

He first tried alcohol at a Fourth of July party. He snuck cigarettes from family members and did all those things a boy is told not to do. He did them because he thought it was cool.

“That’s how my first compromises started,” Pavlich said. He would slowly cave in to drugs and alcohol until he couldn’t wake up without snorting cocaine and washing it down with rum.

Pavlich would not be alone.

Todd battled heroin addiction that wreaked havoc on his life and the ones he loved. His addiction led to petty thefts that landed him in jail for half of his 20s. Sanders survived a series of near-fatal incidents and a life of crime fueled by his addiction.

The stories of Greg, Bob and Anthony continue Thursday. On Tuesday, we continue the story of OVTC.

The NewsOutlet is a joint media venture by student and professional journalists and is a collaboration of Youngstown State University, WYSU radio and The Vindicator.


1Nunya(1356 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

I wish them well in recovery,..

The born to be bad inference is grossly misleading here. See outside of that this is a long overdue story that I'd been cerebrally trying to get those whom would like to color code crime and addictions as being a secular thing,.. IT'S NOT, IT NEVER WAS AND NEVER WILL BE !!!

To support them and show them a better way. We as not just parents, but neighbors, friends, family and society as a whole. Absolutely have to show them that we and they are better than faltering to that.

To be more complete, thorough and effective there shouldn't be just those three faces. It should include the females and every other face of young and older of all walks of life.

Because they collectively exist as those whom has and or are dealing with the disruptions of faltering to such delusion and spiral into greater dysfunction.

The goal can't be to just save one or a few. We have to be convicted to reach them all and the ones that refuse to be reach. Are those whom we have to make believers out of just how lifetime lockup works. If efforts of outreach, assistance and tough love isn't enough for them.

Privilege can be as demonstrative as being deprived. Where on both spectrum's there's a seating of animus that festers from neglect.

It has a rudimentary rebellion that interconnects those ranging from a sense of those being addressed as they " Can do no wrong ". To those of the alleged " Can do no right " positions.

Where in identity it doesn't manifest from the same settings and you certainly can't put a region, gender, race, age economic class or educational level on it either.

But it can be corrected and those affected brought on the right track. Only if and when we are open, honest and fair with them.

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2Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

Though they all travelled on different paths they all arrived at the same destination . The allure of drugs and alcohol didn't leave room for procurement of funds in a normal fashion to finance their desires . This led to an intolerance by society for their victimization of others . An untimely violent death is the end result of an addicts lifestyle . Given a second chance you could say that they were born again .

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3Stormieangel(136 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

I do not know these young men and I am glad I don't for it would be awful to watch them go down that hill of destruction. When you know and care for someone, it hurts so bad to see alcohol and drugs take their toll. You know that deep inside that person is someone who is so lost but you also know there is someone good inside of lot of these addicts. I know this to be true; I have seen these devils take hold of people for years on end. It is so sad to see those lives being wasted. But I will not stand in condemnation for I do not know how they got to that point and how the addictions took hold of them. I hope no one feels overly superior to these addicted people for there are many addictions in this world....look at all the obese people that cannot control their intake of food; look at the shopaholics who put themselves in financial stress; there are the gamblers, the alcoholics, etc. It is probably a sad journey these guys have traveled, and others like them...men and women...who have fought this battle. Some lost and thank God for the ones that won. We need to hold these addicts up in prayer, praying for their acknowleging their weakness for the drugs and their endurance in fighting and winning that battle.
To all you, not just the ones in this program, I say "May God bless you with strength and courage to fight this daily battle. He loves you no matter what. And God wants you to be victorious and I want that for you also. You must believe that; embrace that thought every minute. He is your true friend even when it seems everyone is against you."

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4guardianangelmom(2 comments)posted 5 years, 9 months ago

For everyone fighting a battle I will pray for you. I am glad that the paper has decided to do a story about OVTC. I never dreamed when I had children that I would someday have to say that my Son is an addict. It still is so painful for every thing my family has had to endure through this EVILNESS of addiction. I don't think that I will ever truly understand the desire of substance abuse, but I never gave up on my Son, I realized I had to put it in GOD's hands and since my Son has given his life to the LORD, he is healing now and has a long road ahead.He did'nt need a doctor or some therapist, he has the help of those at OVTC and the greatest healer of all, our GOD.Thank you all who help support this program. And for those who don't, I am prayng for you too!!! GOD BLESS AMERICA and all who believe!!!

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5Askmeificare(1255 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

I wish I could believe in addicts getting rehabbed, but I don't.

What I do believe in is getting these addicted people out of our town so the rest of us can start stabilizing and rebuilding our town and families without the addicts b**lls**t again and again and again coming to the forefront causing problems for everyone.

And what kind of woman would date and have the child of an addict? Just how stupid and mindless can people, even the youth, be?

If addicts want to kill themselves with dope, why not offer them legal executions and save all of us the headaches.

Don't want to sound insensitive, but too bad if my comments offend. Aren't we all tired of losers and the misery they bring.

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