05/17/2010 02:32 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Daviene Smittie, Former Homeless Drug Addict, Helps Others Overcome Addiction

As he strolled down a Milwaukee street one day, Daviene Smittie stopped to ask a man planting a flower bed if he could lend a hand in exchange for cash. Jim Salinsky was happy to oblige. Smittie was homeless and struggling to overcome a crack cocaine addiction that had overrun his life. The Journal Sentinel reports the two quickly became friends, and Salinsky helped Smittie find other odd jobs to earn money to rent a room.

"The easiest thing in the world," Salinsky said, "is to write a check and imagine that you're making a difference in someone's life. The more challenging thing is to get involved, get informed and learn what might motivate that person to help himself."

After years of struggles, Smittie is now leading a sober and stable life, thanks to his own determination and support from a loyal friend. Smittie has found a job he is passionate about -- as a substance abuse counselor, he helps alcoholics and drugs addicts work to overcome addiction. Three years of weekend classes have earned Smittie a bachelor's degree and he hopes to pursue a masters in the same field.

His wife Sandy explains,

"He's very passionate about it, passionate with a capital P"... And if anything at work frustrates him, it's that he can't fix everybody right away.