Three years ago, Craig resident Chad Kiniston said goodbye to his mother, who passed away from a rare form of cancer.
The disease was caused by 32 years of smoking. It claimed Kiniston's mother at age 45.
The family loss is one reason Kiniston joined Grand Futures Prev--ention Coalition as a tobacco-prevention specialist. It's also why, as the organization's new leader, he's dedicated to helping curb substance abuse for children and adults.
"That really brought home the tobacco part of things," said Kiniston, a Craig resident for the past year. "You see the tobacco use here, and the numbers are substantial compared to nationwide."
Grand Futures is an organization dedicated to educating the public in Moffat, Grand and Routt counties about the dangers of drug and alcohol use. Last week, Kiniston was named as the organization's new director.
Today is his first day on the job.
He replaces former director Cindy Biskup, who recently resigned after 9 years with the organization and has since moved to Mesquite, Nev.
"I'm excited," Kiniston said. "I feel I have the skills and ability (Grand Futures) was looking for. I'm really looking forward to getting into the office and really digging in."
Kiniston, 30, is originally from McClave.
Before becoming Grand Futures' full-time director, Kiniston split his time working for Grand Futures and as a prevention/life skills coordinator for the Boys & Girls Club of Craig.
Past experiences fueled his desire to help others prevent or defeat problems with substance abuse.
He said his mother's struggle with cigarettes isn't the only hard case he's seen of substance abuse taking control of someone's life. He witnessed friends from high school and college endure similar struggles.
"I saw friends get hooked on steroids, people from high school get mixed in with drugs," he said. "I've had a lot of experience in being a friend to someone that had problems.
"We have to get out there and talk to (the public) about drugs and alcohol, smoking. These things are big issues in every community."
Kiniston said Grand Futures' plan for deterring substance abuse includes educating children about the pitfalls of opening the door to abuse. By drinking, kids become susceptible to drugs, he said.
"They all fit together," he said. "That (gateway) theory is, I think, 100 percent accurate. When you get into one thing, it's going to lead to another. It happens, and it happens every day. I think you have to start with stepping stones."
Educating youths early is the key, he said.
Kiniston said the blueprint for reaching children includes expanding programs, acquiring grant money and working in partnership with other agencies, such as the Boys & Girls Club, Drug Resistance and Abuse Education (DARE) and Recreational After-school Doorway (RAD).
"We have to start with the kids and do as much as we can from the ground up," he said.
Kiniston and his wife, Crystal, have two sons, Junior and Brandon, and two daughters, McKenzie and McKayla.
He said he has one pressing priority for his tenure at Grand Futures -- a priority that will benefit all families.
"We have several numbers in substance abuse that are higher than the national average," he said. "In the non-profit world, you work so that you're not needed anymore.
"I'm looking to make this a career -- to make this community a better place to live is important to me."