What’s it like to own a car for the first time? Lifelong Flagler criminal finds out

William Doran, 60, gets another chance at life thanks to Foundations to Freedom

FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. – It’s an inspiring story of redemption, recovery, and second chances: a 60-year-old lifelong criminal and addict whom News 6 has been following since his most recent incarceration is finally starting to live the life he could only dream of.

William Doran got the break he needed his entire adult life inside the Flagler County Jail after the 80th-something time he was arrested in 2021.

Now, 17 months later, Doran has purchased his first car. It included something he never experienced as homeless transient living in a tent: air conditioning.

“Better than what I had in the tent!” Doran said.

He just bought his first-ever pair of glasses. Normally, he’d steal them.

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Doran always wore donated shoes. Today, he’s wearing the first pair of sneakers he’s ever purchased at a store.

“Never established any type of credit, my credit just got raised last week. I was like, ‘I don’t know what that means!’” Doran said. “I never paid bills!”

Doran admits to serving nine prison terms for 120 convictions, many of them felonies.

By his own admission, he was a danger to the community.

“Oh yeah,” Doran said. “You didn’t want to be around me. Houses and stores and people. If they were drunk I would roll them, I would rob them. We called it ‘Rolled them.’”

Now, Doran is doing the opposite.

“Totally,” Doran said. “And I’m trying to help someone who did the same thing I had to do to survive and get my drug of choice.”

Doran is now a case manager at Foundations to Freedom, an all-encompassing halfway house established in Deland only a year ago.

It’s the first meaningful job Doran has ever had. Every day and many nights, he guides and coaches fellow recovering addicts who were in his shoes just 17 short months ago.

News 6 first met Doran inside the Flagler County Jail shortly after he’d agreed to enroll in S.M.A.R.T. — Successful Mental Health Addiction Recovery Treatment — at the time a brand new ground-breaking approach to helping addicts in jail where they live and learn together in a pod 24 hours a day.

“I still use the tools today that (S.M.A.R.T.) taught me,” Doran said.

Katherine Russell, founder and Executive Director of Foundations to Freedom — also a recovering addict — is the other reason Doran has stayed sober, he said.

Doran was Russell’s first client to graduate.

“He came to us straight out of jail and he had a lot of work to do still,” Russell said. “He excelled in our program and really went above and beyond on a daily basis to continue to work on himself in his recovery.”

Russell first hired Doran as a maintenance man, then promoted him to care coordinator — and now, case manager.

“I have direction now. I have a career. I never had anything,” Doran said. “I got a 401k. I got P.O.T., I mean (Paid Time Off)! I got two weeks, I was like, ‘What?’”

Currently, Doran is working on become a State Certified Peer Specialist — the first time he’s ever been certified in anytime in his lifetime.

Recently, he took a vacation, which was another first. He reconnected with his son and had a meaningful conversation with him for the first time in 20 years.

Foundations to Freedom currently houses 56 men and women at six halfway houses across Deland. Russell said 86% percent of her clients who graduate and move out of the houses stay sober and healthy for at least six month. Foundations to Freedom keeps in touch with them as part of the recovery process.

Russell said Foundations to Freedom has already reunified 15 mothers with their children, meaning they regained full custody.

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About the Author:

Erik von Ancken anchors and reports for News 6 and is a two-time Emmy award-winning journalist in the prestigious and coveted "On-Camera Talent" categories for both anchoring and reporting.