A Second Chance

by Office of Marketing | Apr 29, 2015
Jim Goins '06
Jim Goins ’06 woke up one morning homeless, on probation and financially indebted to his family and friends who had unknowingly financed his gambling addiction for years. After confronting his problem, Goins was surrounded by Christians who helped him and a God who changed him. Goins is a University of Valley Forge (UVF) alum who was influenced by UVF and in return, has impacted the lives of those around him. 

His gambling addiction began during his freshman year in 1995 while a student at another university. Disinterested in his studies, he focused on having fun and playing sports. When sports did not deliver fulfillment, Goins developed a gambling habit, which turned into an addiction. Soon Goins began stealing money from his family and friends to perpetuate his gambling habit. He was arrested, and although he faced a major prison sentence, the judge placed him on probation and ordered him to pay back his debt. Still, Goins continued to gamble. It was not until his father told him he was moving away without him that Goins felt helpless and alone. His father told him about the Teen Challenge rehab facility, and Goins knew it was time to confront his addiction.

In 2002, Goins joined a Teen Challenge facility in Pennsylvania. The mission of Teen Challenge is to rekindle hope, renew life and restore families by reaching out to men, women and youth struggling with life-controlling problems. While there, Goins saw the possibility of a life free from addiction. The staff and volunteers at Teen Challenge are committed to helping those in the program confront their problems and find a new identity in Christ. “I had no idea what a relationship with God even meant,” Goins shared. "But I was welcomed by people who cared about me and didn’t want anything from me.”

One of the most influential people Goins met was Tim Czaja ’05. Czaja was a Teen Challenge graduate and a student at UVF. Czaja had returned to Teen Challenge to share how God changed his life and encouraged Goins to return to college. Although Goins was skeptical, he contacted UVF. “One by one the series of events unfolded that led me to coming straight to UVF from Teen Challenge,” Goins said. 

In 2003, Goins joined Czaja at UVF as a psychology major. At 26, he was not the age of a typical freshman student but it was because of his life experience that he embraced his second chance at college. He excelled academically and built supportive relationships with classmates and professors. The intentionally smaller student-to-faculty ratio offered Goins and his classmates the opportunity to discuss not only the textbook but also real life experiences. "It helped that the professors went above and beyond to show that they cared and wanted you to understand the information," he said. "I developed a lot of great relationships with professors whom I still talk to today." 

Goins also found his calling at UVF. "Previously I did not care that much about helping other people, or myself, but UVF radically changed my view on how I was spending my time," he said. God called Goins to help others struggling with addictions. "I think once my heart started to change at UVF, all that I could say that I was aware of is that I had a desire that came from God. I wanted to do for others what had been done for me." In 2006, he graduated from UVF with a bachelor's degree in psychology with a concentration in counseling. 

Upon graduation, Goins worked as an addictions counselor at the Malvern Institute. The institute is an addictions rehab facility based out of Malvern, Pa., that, according to its website, offers an "evidence-based model of clinical care along with a 12-step approach that will provide engagement and monitoring for at least 90 days." Malvern Institute provides inpatient and outpatient programs, as well as counseling centers depending on the individual's needs. 

Goins has worked there for the past nine years. He currently serves as a clinical supervisor. In this role, Goins is responsible for managing the counselors providing the treatment. He supervises the counselors, offers feedback and reviews the facility's treatment process to ensure they continue to offer the best treatment possible. 

He continues to move forward in counseling as God provides more opportunities. Just a few short years after graduating UVF, Goins enrolled at Immaculata University where he obtained his master's degree in counseling psychology and a national certificate in addictions studies. Goins recently satisfied all of the Pennsylvania state requirements for his licensed professional counselor credentials. He hopes to one day open his own private practice.

Jim and his wife Emily (Jerzak) Goins '04 have continued to be members of the UVF community. Jim traveled with UVF staff and students on a missions trip to a Teen Challenge facility in Romania last year and serves as an adjunct professor in the psychology program. Emily has worked at UVF since 2007 and is currently the director of advising. In June, Jim, Emily and their two-year-old son, Josiah, will be starting life anew as they relocate to Nevada. Goins will be the clinical director for A Better Today Recovery Services in Las Vegas. 

"It's hard to imagine how things would have unfolded differently, if I didn't go to UVF straight from Teen Challenge," Goins said. "It gave me a chance to be surrounded by Christians and not have to figure everything out on my own."