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Houston Man Seeks Grant For At Risk Kids Community Center

by Michael DeWalt
(Houston, Texas, USA)

I'm a 39-year-old male from Houston, Texas. I grew up in the inner city and was convicted of a felony at the age of 19.

Considering myself to be a product of my environment is what drove me to my quest of wanting to start a nonprofit organization to help at risk kids.

During my decade of incarceration I was a member of a program called operation outreach where each weekend kids were brought from all over the state of Texas to get a glimpse into what a day in prison is like. Our mission statement was "each one, reach one, teach one" an idea that I live by.

I've been home for nearly ten years. I'm a licensed barber as well as a certified pipe fabricator, but with the current economy jobs are very hard to come by and I'm a union member.

My program would be aimed at helping kids at risk, rescuing them from gang activity, child abuse, poverty, peer pressure, drug use or pregnancy.

I continue to give back by volunteering to do seminars and things of this nature through Harris County Juvenile Probation Department, Churches, and other Associations.

I feel that I am a tool that needs to be used because there are so many kids growing up today that are facing the exact same influences I faced as a kid. My story may be just the thing that can give them that bit of hope.

When I was incarcerated my girlfriend was two months pregnant. When I came home my son was eight. He has pretty much stayed with me every since.

He's a senior in high school and a varsity football letterman with aspirations of playing college football next spring.

My experiences that I went through allowed me to return to his life and be the father he needs in a very important time in life.

I never even considered a return to the life I was living before my incarceration because no way could I imagine seeing him looking at me like why did you leave me.

Growing up with a single mother that was only 15 years older than me I can relate to kids that some may not be able to.

I would like to eventually open a community center that functions with the help of the community with universal collaborations from the schools, churches, police, business owners, and we as the citizens of the community.

We would offer after school alternatives to kids that want and need something positive to do. Do workshops on literacy and family values and systems. Point kids in the right direction for assistance to get help with issues like getting out of the gang, removing tattoos, reporting parents that use drugs in the home or hang with unsavory characters.

I know this business inside out. I just don't have the capital to make this vision a reality.

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