In a way, the path that led LeVardis Williams to Take 5 Oil Change began on December 18, 2017.
That day, he woke up at 4 p.m., walked into the bathroom, looked at himself in the mirror and broke down crying. Up until then, he had lived a hard life — addicted to drugs, in and out of prison, periodically homeless. And he realized history was going to repeat itself if he didn’t do something to stop it.
“I just looked at myself, and I knew where I was headed,” he recalls. “I wasn’t homeless at that time. I had a car. I had a job, but I just knew where I was going.”
This time, he asked for help, and he got it, in the form of a full scholarship to the Greenhouse Treatment Center in Grand Prairie, Texas. Thirty days later, he moved into Oxford House, an addiction recovery home in Dallas, where he would land his first interview with Take 5 Oil Change.
The path to ‘bad decisions’
LeVardis grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. His mother had him when she was still in high school. He never knew his father, and his grandparents became a vital part of his early years. LeVardis played sports and went to acting school. He sang in the choir. He was outgoing, and happy.
Then, a disagreement between family members pushed LeVardis and his mother out of his grandparents’ home and changed everything. He and his mother argued. LeVardis started to drink and smoke cigarettes. Then, when he was 16 years old, his mother kicked him out of the house.
“That’s when I started making some bad decisions and hanging out with the wrong people and doing the wrong things,” he recalls.
He started using marijuana, then cocaine. He started having kids and not taking care of them. He went to prison.
“My life was just unmanageable, and it was all about getting high. The drugs took over,” he recalls. “I wasn’t being a father to my kids. I wasn’t working. I wasn’t a good citizen. I was out there selling drugs.”
The miracle happens
That all changed when he decided to move to Texas for the Oxford House rehabilitation.
It was the first time he’d participated in rehab for himself, rather than to get out of trouble. He was serious about staying on his new path, but it wasn’t easy.
Oxford House gave him a place to live, but he didn’t have a job or a car. He had three bags to his name.
“I was doubting myself for the first month or two, but I kept going to my meetings. I worked my steps, and I talked to my sponsor, and he kept telling me, ‘Don’t leave before the miracle happens,’” he recalls. “I stayed and things started clicking.”
First, he landed a job at a landscaping company. Then he worked at a factory. Then, he became an assistant manager at Take 5 Oil Change.
“What attracted me to Take 5 was the ‘Pit Tech to President’ approach. They pitched how they really believe in promoting their people from within,” he says. “I applied it to my training and developing myself. And within three months, they promoted me to shop manager.”
As shop manager, LeVardis led the best shop in the district. A year later, he was promoted again, to certified training manager. Six months after that, he became district manager for Dallas North.
Since then, Dallas North has grown from nine shops to 12, and he continues to strive to perform at his highest level.
Coming full circle
LeVardis was recognized with Take 5 Oil Change’s Ignite Award for his continued commitment to the Oxford House and creating new opportunities for others like him. He is the chairperson of the Oxford House alumni association for the Dallas-Fort Worth area and, at a recent retreat, was honored by the organization for his continued service.
“There are a lot of people in the Dallas area who used to live at Oxford House and who now work for Take 5, and I’m honored to bridge those two organizations that I love very much,” he says. “I try to give back to that newcomer who came in like I came in and doesn’t know if it’s going to work.”
In addition to his career at Take 5 Oil Change, LeVardis credits Oxford House with introducing him to his wife.
“I’m very grateful for my wife. She’s my rock. We support each other, and we have built what we have today,” he says. “We have a house together. We have a beautiful life, and it’s one we have because of my recovery and because I was given the opportunity with Take 5. My career path with Take 5 has been nothing short of a miracle.”