Tabasco, the Executive Director of the Clay County Community Corrections Office, became an ordained minister on July 22 at the House of Hope.
Growing up in Philadelphia, Tabasco became involved with gangs and partying at an early age, but his life soon changed.
"I had a violent family and a rough background, but my life began to turn around after I was injured in a gang shooting," Tabasco said. "My life was changed by finding God, and giving myself to the Lord."
In 1997, he started working at a ministry in Michigan, helping council youth in the area. He then came to Indiana in 2000 as the Assistant Residential Director at the House of Hope.
"During that time, I would walk the 6.6 miles to the YMCA in town to sweep and dust floors in exchange for a membership," Tabasco said. "While I was working there, I began speaking with the kids and created a following for my ministry."
Along with other church members, Tabasco fills in periodically as a lay pastor at Christ Community Church, Brazil, and says religion is an instrumental part of his life.
"I believe that you don't have to just be a priest on the pulpit," he said. "I not only speak the gospel, I try to live it every day of my life."
Tabasco's sermons can be heard online at www.christcommunitychurch.org.
As a part of his ministry, Tabasco has been a part of Mission Teens, Inc., since 1997 and continues to teach a prevention course at the House of Hope on Friday mornings.
"I love working with kids and helping them out of the cave that I was able to crawl out of," he said.
Tabasco was ordained by Mission Teens Founder Rev. Jim Bracken and Director of the House of Hope Pete Latrenta, but is grateful to have another special person by his side.
"This Sept. 6, I will be celebrating my fifth anniversary of being married to my wife, Lei Aloha," Tabasco said. "She is a strong Christian and has been right with me ever since I met her. She is amazing and supports me in whatever I do."
Tabasco met his wife while working at the Clay County YMCA, and together they have created a strong presence in the community.
"I used to talk to her as she worked out and it grew into a wonderful love," Tabasco said. "We have a great life for ourselves in the community and have a lot of love and support here."
The couple also have a 9-year-old daughter, Reagen Rose, who will be entering the fourth grade at Jackson Township Elementary next week.
"She is a wonderful daughter who has been an honor student since the first grade and holds Jesus close to her heart," Tabasco said.
Tabasco became an Intensive Case Worker for the Juvenile Probation Department with some intervention from former Clay Circuit Court Judge Ernest Yelton.
"Judge Yelton had heard about my work with kids and offered me the job in 2001," Tabasco said. "About six months later, I became a Home Detention Officer and have been working with Community Corrections ever since."
He became the Executive Director of Community Corrections about a year ago and said he is thankful for all the support he has received within the community.
"There have been so many people in the community who helped me establish roots and start a life here in Clay County," Tabasco said. "I can't even begin to start naming all those who helped me."
Tabasco's presence in the community continues to grow as he is also on the YMCA's Board of Directors and is the president-elect of the Brazil Rotary Club.
He loves life here in Clay County and looks forward to what the future will bring, not only professionally, but in his ministry as a newly ordained minister.
"I truly have a passion for life and my ministry and I love the possibility of creating a stronger relationship with the community," Tabasco said.