YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – For Kyle Goodbee, playing for the Youngstown State University football team in 2019 was a good fit.
His decision to move permanently to the city the following year to become a chemical addiction counselor was even more fitting.
Goodbee grew up in a dangerous neighborhood in Towson, Maryland, with an older brother affiliated with a gang who is now deceased.
âI know what it feels like to have to depend on the street,â he says. âI know what it’s like to put yourself in a certain situation where you really don’t want to be. But you have to [be there] because of a level of security you think you need from other people who are not the best at protecting you.
Goodbee has been through things that teens with chemical addiction can empathize with. He has had eight clients so far in his young career as a consultant.
“Once a child realizes that you are coming from the same [type of] area and you can even identify the same kind of characteristics, they are much easier [to counsel],” he says.
Goodbee is a consultant for FocusCare, the adolescent division of CRN Healthcare Inc., which has offices on Fifth Avenue in Youngstown.
FocusCare serves clients from the age of 9. CRN is licensed and accredited by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction to serve teens and adults, but focuses more on those aged 18 and older.
FocusCare opened in April. It is one of 10 CRN offices in Ohio serving clients with drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues such as depression, bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder, behavioral problems and sexual trauma.
Kofee Mostella, senior vice president of CRN Healthcare Inc., says clients are referred by schools and probation officers, but word of mouth is the biggest source of referrals.
âThe thing with CRN, and in particular with FocusCare, is that we are flexible to the needs of the client,â she says.
âWe realize there is a need to focus on the teenage population, especially here in Youngstown,â Mostella says.
While other counseling services work with adolescents, âThe only difference with us is that we offer counseling on chemical dependence,â says Goodbee. âThere is nothing else in the Youngstown area that offers adolescent-focused chemical addiction counseling. “
The COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020 as Goodbee sought to take his footballing skills to a professional level. He met Malik Mostella, who coaches athletics at the Ursulines high school and supervises football players in other training establishments.
As Goodbee recalls the conversation, âHe said, ‘I’m not here for the money. I’m just here to make sure you can be a better man, be a better you and I’m here to help you on this journey.
The encounter became a life-changing event as Goodbee and five other displaced YSU players ultimately remained with the Mostellas during the pandemic.
Goodbee saw the work Malik’s wife Kofee was doing at home with mental health and addiction services, and became intrigued.
Goodbee had a psychology concentration and a business background when he graduated from YSU in May 2020. He pitched the couple a business idea that would use his skills and passion to work with young people. That’s how Goodbee landed at FocusCare, which Kofee Mostella founded.
âI’m not very good at typing papers or communicating together,â Goodbee says. âBut I’m great when it comes to talking to someone face to face. I always say I can sell water from a well.
Goodbee played football in St. Augustine [CQ] University of Raleigh, North Carolina, for two years, from 2016 to 2018. The private, historically black college was founded in 1867 to educate freed slaves. Guiding a tour through the school ultimately led to him becoming a chemical addiction counselor.
Two young men from rival gangs visited campus and were arguing, he explains. Goodbee, then a sophomore, stepped in and told the men it doesn’t matter where they’re from, but how they behave outside of their hometown. He convinced them to be friendly after saying he came from a Baltimore neighborhood known for its violence and high murder rate.
One of the two gang members then connected with Goodbee via social media and recounted how he and his mother had had verbal and physical altercations. Things changed for the young man when he went from struggling with his homework to finally getting his first C grade on an assignment.
âAt that time, I was connecting to the kids,â says Goodbee, 24. “In my vision and in my reality, I didn’t think it would go beyond that.”
He left to pursue teaching studies at Towson University near Baltimore, but lost his illusions in his first education class when told he couldn’t help everyone and that he had to fail some children.
âIt’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever heard of in my life,â Goodbee says. “And if that’s teaching, I thought, I don’t want to teach.”
He transferred to YSU and played football under former Penguins coach Bo Pelini. It was his last year of football eligibility and he had to find a major to keep him on track for graduation.
He was told to pursue a degree in psychology to graduate on time.
“How did I take three years of activity [studies] and a year of math and add to psychology? said Goodbee. âI still don’t know how this could have happened. “
Pictured: Kyle Goodbee and Kofee Mostella operate FocusCare, the adolescent division of CRN Healthcare Inc.
Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.