/ By Jolene Limbacher / August 7, 2018

Tina Levene is coming home, and she couldn’t be happier.

The motivational speaker and Christian comedian known for overcoming personal despair and near destruction will celebrate the publication of her fifth book at a book launch party at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Lions Lincoln Theatre.

No longer a victim, she is coming home victorious, having been sober and addiction free for 20 years. Copies of her latest book, “Heartbeat of a R.E.A.L. Leader,” will be available Thursday night before being released worldwide on Sept. 14.

“I love Massillon and it will be great to be surrounded by family and friends,” she said. “I want to give back to the community that built my solid foundation in leadership.”

The graduate of Washington High School and the University of Akron has overcome alcoholism, abuse, drug addiction, domestic violence and rape. She will bring her positive energy, humor and compassion to help others heal from past traumas, accept the present and motivate them to keep moving forward.

“I’ve lived a heck of a life, I know I have,” she said in a recent interview. “As long as I serve others and help others, I’m good.”

The 43-year-old daughter of Tim and Pam Miller of Massillon admits it was a “miracle” that she was able to triumph over her past. She credits her “very strong faith,” counseling, 12-step recovery programs and the loving support of family and friends for helping her to heal and transform.

From despair to recovery

Her teen-age and young adult years were both compelling and frightening.

At age 9, she picked up a cigarette butt and smoked what was left. At 14, she started drinking alcohol. When she was a 19-year-old college student, she was drinking alcohol every day and using drugs. By the time she was 23, psychologists, doctors and professors warned her that if she didn’t stop abusing alcohol and drugs, she wouldn’t live to be 24.

Gradually, a lot of soul searching took place. When the booze ran out one wintry night in 1998 after a 13-1/2 hour binge, she was frustrated and craving alcohol. It proved to be a pivotal moment.

So in the city of Akron, the birthplace of Dr. Bob Smith’s Alcoholics Anonymous, Tina took her first steps toward sobriety. She attended 116 AA meetings in 90 days, and took the advice of a longtime alcoholic who encouraged her to channel all the energy and time she had spent manipulating others, lying, using alcohol and drugs into getting sober. She did.

Her roots as a comedian go back to her days when she performed in her living room in front of neighbor kids. She hit the stage as a young actress in Ohio then competed in humorous interpretation on the speech team in high school. At the University of Akron, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in family and child development. By 2003, she had hit the speaking arena in classrooms and conferences.

Her professional work experiences span from working on a cruise ship and doing social work to drug and delinquency prevention in the juvenile justice system. She has worked with youth in the fields of drug addiction, bullying/gang prevention foster care and criminal justice.

Today, she is employed by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and speaks nationally about three times a month to professional audiences such as social workers, counselors and therapists.

Levene said her latest book demonstrates how anyone can become a “life-changing leader in a family, church or community by creating a safe environment for people celebrating their gifts.”

She and her husband and their 12-year-old son live in Clearwater, Fla. She finds comfort and solace on the beach, listening to God.