Tyrone

Visibility is key to a healthy childhood. Kids who feel invisible, unseen, tend to either fade into the background, or blaze forward into extremes. Both are dangerous paths to tread, with many obstacles waiting to drag you down.

This is the story of Tyrone, a quiet, private child who never had anyone tell him there was a better way to live. It’s our privilege to help him be seen today.

Tyrone grew up with a single mom in downtown Charleston. His mom was a domestic worker, cleaning hotels and private homes. She was often quiet; they didn’t talk much. Since it was just the two of him, Tyrone grew up quiet, too. In a way, this wasn’t awful. Tyrone developed a strong intuition about people, learning early how to read them and their intentions non-verbally.

Tyrone failed first grade, then third grade. Both times, he thinks it was because of language deficiencies, likely the result of his Gullah dialect. He didn’t like school. It’s hard for him to say whether it was his personality or the school system, but he felt disconnected from the material which didn’t reflect his history or experience as an African American. He failed 6th, 7th and 8th grade, too, but was pushed forward each year because he was too old to be held back. No one stepped in to help; no one saw how he struggled.

This was a turning point for him. He gave up his dream of being an archaeologist, because, to a kid, how can you be an archaeologist when you can’t even pass 8th grade?

By 12-years-old, Tyrone was selling drugs. He looked up to the “men” in the neighborhood, and theirs was the criminal lifestyle. These “men” were 19- and 20-year olds who, according to Tyrone, “didn’t know any better themselves. That was all they knew. There might have been opportunities, but we never saw or heard of them.” When he dropped out of school in 9th grade, Tyrone began selling drugs full-time.

Tyrone was first arrested at 17 and it crushed his mom. When he went to prison her hair was black. When he came out two years later it was almost completely white. But he continued to sell drugs and continued to get arrested. “I thought about quitting,” he says, “but then I would ask myself, what else am I going to do? I had no education and I didn’t know anyone who wasn’t doing criminal things. It was my identity. It felt good that people knew my name and needed me. If I didn’t sell drugs, then who was I? I would be invisible.”

Selling drugs allowed Tyrone, finally, to be seen. That had to feel good to an invisible kid.

At 25, Tyrone was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for selling drugs, but that didn’t make him want to change his ways. He had a plan. “My plan was to rob someone with a lot of money when I got out and use it to start a business,” he says. “Obviously, that was ridiculous. I know nothing about business. But I knew I would be coming out of prison at 40 years old with no education and no skills. But you need a plan to hold on to when you’re facing 15 years in prison. Something to hold on to when you put your head down at night.”

So, what changed? Tyrone says he was lucky enough to find a group of men in prison who mentored him. They who were facing life sentences and weren’t going to have another chance to get it right, but Tyrone did. He also found faith in Islam. Slowly, he began to self-reflect. He thought deeply about his experience as a black man, and the beliefs he had taken on according to society’s stereotype of him and his failure in school. He’d lived those stereotypes out, just like society knew he would.

In prison he freed himself by finally rejecting the belief that he was unworthy, somehow less than everyone else. Tyrone says that in a prison yard of 1,600 people with access to every drug imaginable and regular violence and gang activity, he created a daily structure that kept him out of trouble. He did things in prison that would normally make someone a target – like tucking his shirt in and carrying books – but it was important to him to live by his newfound principles. His actions inspired other people in prison who wanted to change but didn’t know how. He was seen, heard, and he had finally found himself.

Tyrone was released in October, 2019. One day shortly after his release, he ran into someone who remembered him from prison and said Tyrone inspired him there with his attitude, demeanor and his principles. That person’s name was Edwin, and he had just graduated from Turning Leaf. Edwin told Tyrone that he wanted to pay the favor forward by giving him Turning Leaf’s information and encouraging him to enroll. Tyrone enrolled in the program based on the strength of Edwin’s referral.

Tyrone’s says the Turning Leaf classes give language and structure to the principles he started learning and practicing in prison. Those same principles taught to him by his mentors in prison are now being taught as “skills” through the Turning Leaf curriculum to help him create a new life on the outside. His mentors would be proud.

We’re proud of you, too, Tyrone, and we know you’ll pay the favor forward when you see someone who could use our help.

Story Captured by Leah Rhyne

Randy

Some kids are lucky enough to grow up loved. Even if their family’s circumstances aren’t great, they still know the feeling of love and acceptance. Of being wanted.

The injuries inflicted upon a child whose life is absent of love can take a lifetime to heal. Randy spent his life looking for the kind of support and affection he never got at home, and unfortunately, he looked in a lot of the wrong places before he made his way to Turning Leaf.

This is Randy’s story.

Randy’s mom and dad split up before his first memories. He grew up with three siblings and mother in Savannah. Randy’s mom always worked and paid the bills, but in many important ways she chose not to be a parent. She was loud, full of life, always up for a good time, but her good time didn’t involve her children. “She was going to live her life” Randy said. “She went out a lot and when she was home, she didn’t pay attention to me unless I was getting into trouble. She would dress like a movie star and me and my brothers would be in dirty clothes. I never, ever, ever got what I wanted for Christmas. Ever.” His mom made it clear that she wasn’t interested in him. Randy’s older sister of five years raised him and his two brothers.

At nine Randy reunited with his dad. He escaped to his dad’s house whenever he could. It was a place with more structure but not the emotional investment that Randy needed. His dad’s attitude was “get what you need yourself and stay out of my way.” There was a lack of accountability in both households. When Randy got into trouble at school his dad came to pick him up but didn’t talk to the teachers or Randy about the incident. He didn’t yell or get upset. His mom took a different approach. She beat him when he was in trouble but otherwise ignored him. When he was ten years old, Randy stayed out all night long and no one came looking for him.

Randy spent the next 20 years of his life looking for the love he didn’t get when he was young.

The best thing in Randy’s life was school. He lived with his mom in a Section 8 housing complex which meant he was bused to a nearby magnet school with a mix of white kids from better neighborhoods, and mainly black kids from the housing projects. He liked school and his teachers. When he was in fourth grade, he wanted to be a marine biologist. Everything changed when he moved neighborhoods and was forced to attend the neighborhood public school. In fifth grade Randy was being taught what he had already learned in third grade. He became disengaged and frustrated. He complained to his mom that he couldn’t stay in the new school, but she didn’t listen. In sixth grade things got bad. Randy thought, “If they don’t care about my education, why should I?” He began skipping school, and when he did go, it was only to sell candy and hang out with girls. Randy was sent to an alternative school and dropped out in eighth grade. By the time he was 13 he was staying away from home for a week at a time and no one cared.

Women became his focus. The interpersonal connection he could make with women fascinated him. By the time he was 20 he had three children. He was working what he calls dead-end jobs. “I’d get my paycheck and it’d be gone within 24 hours. I always worked. Sometimes I even worked two jobs, but I couldn’t figure out how to survive on the little money I got, so I always did other illegal things too – sell drugs and steal cars.” Randy was arrested for the first time at 20 for stealing a car. He served a short sentence in jail, but he didn’t change his behavior. Randy went to prison four times over the next eleven years. One time he was only out for 35 days before he was re-arrested.

He knew what he was doing was stupid. And for the most part, he knew he was going to get caught. So why didn’t he stop? “I was a follower. I wanted my friends to know I had their back. I

did things I didn’t want to do, things I knew were stupid, because I was looking for love. I was looking for acceptance.”

During Randy’s last prison term something changed. He was transferred to a prison yard where he had access to meaningful programs. He learned about business, real estate, textiles, horticulture and custodial maintenance. He began talking with men who had run successful businesses and had made real money before going to prison. These men were asking for his thoughts on ideas. They cared about his opinion. Randy’s image of himself slowly started to change. He began to think, “If they did it, why can’t I?”

Randy was released from prison in November. He’s not going back to Savannah, to his old people and places. His plan is to start a new life in Charleston with the help of Turning Leaf. His major goals right now? Complete Turning Leaf. Enroll in school. Find a job that will pay him a living wage. And learn how to accept and love himself for who he is today.

You’ve got this, Randy! We’re behind you, all the way!

Byron

For our first post in the #tlpstories series we sat down with our student Byron to learn about his story. We talked about his childhood, the decisions he made that kept him cycling in and out of prison, what brought him to Turning Leaf, and where he is taking his life now. His is a story like so many others – youth and confidence and that devil-may-care feeling that keeps so many young people on the streets despite the damage it’s doing to their lives. There’s always a turning point, though. At least for the students at Turning Leaf.

This is Byron’s story.

Byron grew up in the country surrounded by women: his mother, his grandma, and his aunts. As the only child – and a boy, no less – he was very loved, and possibly spoiled. When he was ten, things changed, though. The family moved to the city. There, Byron began to feel isolated. He was an outcast among the city kids: he wore cowboy boots, his voice and accent were different, and he didn’t fit in. He learned how to fight.

As he got older, fighting became second nature. So did street life. On the streets, Byron saw things he wasn’t used to seeing. He saw older kids drinking, smoking, and realized that he would “look cool” or “be a badass” if he were to join them. Before long, he started selling drugs, which of course led to other criminal behavior. And, of course, he got caught.

Byron landed in juvenile detention where he had to fight in order to survive. He fought his way to the top of the food chain in juvie, which gave him even more confidence, and made him think he was definitely on the right path. When he got out, he went back to the same life style – selling drugs, carrying guns, and stealing.

At 18, he got caught up on a new charge and went to prison. There, he noticed that most of the other guys were ones he had been in juvie with as well. Soon he was back on top of the food chain. This was an easy thing for him; he liked the feeling of confidence that came with being on top. Why would he change when everywhere he went, he was in charge? So the cycle continued: prison, home, crimes, prison, home, crimes

Byron’s mother tried to stop him. She tried to break the cycle. But young and confident as he was, Byron didn’t listen. He thought since he was becoming a man, he needed a male influence to help his decisions, not another woman. She told him that he was going to get into something that he couldn’t get out of, and Byron’s most recent prison sentence was it.

Up to that point, Byron’s prison sentences were all relatively short: one year, a few months, nothing too crazy. But then he was sent up for ten years. It was the first time he was sent to prison since his children were born, and right away he realized it was time to do whatever he could to be there for his them. He started to better himself.

He took his prison time day by day. He stopped fighting and started working on his education instead. He got his GED, take drug and alcohol classes, read a lot, got involved in the work program, and listen to music to help himself cope. Unfortunately, during his sentence, despite his hard work, he lost a lot. He got a divorce, lost his sister, an aunt, and his mother. This was another huge turning point for Byron. From then on, he had to get straight and do everything to get better for himself and for others because time is short.

Byron spent his weeks at Turning Leaf living in a halfway house to avoid a commute; this made it far easier to stick with the program. His goals were to get a job, save some money, get his license back and get a car. He’s also focused on spending time with his children to make up for what missed during his eight-year sentence. His ex-wife isn’t always able to bring his kids to see him which is tough; he still can’t be a father the way he would like to. But Byron won’t give up.

He’s a hard worker and always held a job, even when he was living the street lifestyle. The streets raised him, and although he still has that mentality in the back of his mind, it doesn’t mean anything to him anymore. He no longer feels that he needs to turn to the streets to feel like a man. Since being out of prison, he hasn’t been in any situations that have made him want to turn back. He can’t do any more time. His oldest daughter just turned 17, and when he left she was only nine. He will not put himself in any situations that are going to jeopardize his situation or his freedom.

Byron is on a good path for success, for being a man, and being free. Coming out of prison it was difficult for him to still have quality time with his family. He copes by talking to them constantly. He was always a standup father prior to going to prison, and he made sure they were all provided for, but now he knows he could have done it differently.

He plans to bust his tail to take care of his family, even if it means working two jobs. He has six kids, ranging in age from eight to seventeen, and they are worth all the hard work and sacrifice. He is so amazed and proud of them and how they have progressed while he was in prison. He plans to see them in October when he is able to move closer, and is excited to see the people they have grown into.

In the next few months, Byron is focusing on getting his license back. He is enrolled in a drug and alcohol class as well as a driving class. Before being in prison he was an alcoholic but now he is able to say that without being ashamed, which is something he would have been able to do before now. The driving classes run until July, when he can take his permit and drivers test, finally getting his license back (he lost it long ago for recklessness, drinking and driving).

Over the past many months, Byron has had a lot of time to come up with a plan to make sure he won’t jeopardize his freedom. He is patiently working toward October, when he will complete all his classes and become the father he wants to be for his children.

Keep on going, Byron! We are so proud, and know you can be the father your children need!

Story Captured by Leah Rhyne

Shalik

We talk a lot at Turning Leaf about the factors that lead a young man to the street life. There’s the lack of education; poverty; the temptation of the right clothes, women and jewelry. Sometimes, though, the street life is all a boy knows. He’s born into it, raised in its clutches, and never even knows there’s another way to live. He knows guns equal power, and power is everything.

This is the story of a boy who was in the streets from the time he was born. This is the story of a young man who knew the pain of abuse, and its overwhelming vulnerability. This is the story of a man who spent more than half his life in jail or prison, who found comfort in music, and who’s finding the strength to live a different way at Turning Leaf.

This is the story of Shalik.

Shalik grew up in Far Rockaway, Queens, New York. A child of the late 1980s, his was a world in which the war on drugs raged, and “just say no” was never an option. As a small boy he collected empty crack vials for fun. He lived in a nice house with his mother…his brothers…his sister…his aunties…his uncles…his cousins, too. It was overcrowded, to say the least, and while his mother wasn’t directly involved with the street life, his aunts, uncles and cousins were. “My auntie might take me to the sneaker store,” he says. “She’d tell me to take the old sneakers off, put the new ones on, and walk off. My uncle might tell me to hand a package to a person.”

The street life was Shalik’s life. In New York, he says, “people are more aggressive because the population is so crowded. It’s a fight to get on trains, busses, things like that.” He knew basketball and football, sure, but also how to blow up a phone booth with an M-80 firecracker. He knew how to hop the train to avoid having to pay. He knew it all.

His father was in the federal system when Shalik was very small, and on his release he moved to California. After Shalik accidentally broke a teacher’s leg (“I kicked a heater and it fell on her leg.”), his mother sent him there to be with his father. “It was a culture shock,” says Shalik. Both life in California, and life with his father.

Shalik’s father tried to implement structure, with chores, bedtimes, etc., ut Shalik made a lot of mistakes trying to fit into this new lifestyle. “My dad was the smartest man I ever met, and the strongest man I ever met. He was more determined than anybody I ever met. He’s big on education. He just didn’t show his affection real well. He over-punished, and that made me feel vulnerable.”

“Over-punished” meant abuse for young Shalik, who was trying and failing to fit in. He was only 10 years old, and he was in a new state and a new private school with kids who were different from him. When kids started trading Pogs and Shalik didn’t have any, he waited until his class went to PE, stayed behind, and stole every Pog piece from every backpack in the room. Along the way, he also poured water on the computers in the classroom. In New York, he says, he might not have even gotten suspended for such shenanigans; in California, the school called the police.

Between his antics in school and the abuse at home, something had to change. His father’s girlfriend called Shalik’s mother, who flew out, packed Shalik up, and sent him to live with his grandmother in Orangeburg, South Carolina. There, he stayed out of trouble for a couple years at least, but the creeping feeling of vulnerability brought on by his father’s abuse stuck with him. When he was 13 and some boys jumped him at a bus stop, he ran home to his grandmother’s. The house was empty – his grandmother and her husband were at church – so he found a 12-gauge shotgun and ran back to the kids who’d hurt him. He didn’t shoot, only threatened to, but the police got involved again. But that day, Shalik learned the power of a gun, and he gained a reputation to protect. “From then on,” he says, “it was trouble, trouble, trouble.”

Shalik – the tough kid from New York by way of California – was suddenly popular. He and his new friends started breaking into houses. “I was always the first one in and the last one out,” he says. “I had to protect my image.” They stole guns, jewelry, electronics. Shalik loved music and was always on the lookout for speakers, stereos, things like that. He got busted with a friend one day, and after a three-month evaluation in Columbia, the system wanted to commit him. Instead, his father intervened and conviced the judge to send Shalik to Georgetown Marine Institute, a military school designed to help troubled kids.

The school had its ups and downs. “It helped a lot,” he says, “with discipline, respect, and physically. It helped with my education because I was far behind.” They ran the school like the marines, and when Shalik left, he was different. “I had respect for elders,” he says. “I had discipline.”

But it wasn’t enough to keep him on the right path, and soon, the charges – and the prison time – added up. There were drug trafficking charges. Possession of firearms. He did a few years here, violated parole, a few years there, violated parole again. There was a 10-year sentence, followed by a 5-year sentence. Shalik’s days in the system outnumbered his days on the streets.

Through it all, there was one constant in Shalik’s life: music. “It’s my stress reliever,” he says. “My meditation. I picked up my pen and pad even when I couldn’t spell. I’d write things only I could understand. Things that were just for me. I put my music together to get my thoughts out of my head.”

His thoughts turned to things like sentencing laws that struck Shalik as remarkably broken. A young man, only 18, could get 30 years in prison for having half a brick of drugs, while a pedophile who dealt in child pornography might only get 15 months. The same system could force a guy with a minor drug offence to register as a sex offender for getting caught masturbating. The system, he knows, is utterly unfair.

While in prison he wrote:

Many nights in jail I pace my cell
Write rhymes, receiving mail
It helped me face hell, was not a game
These people went from whips to chains
Modern day slavery but it’s all the same
First time offender getting 30 years for cocaine
Life for crack, no parole just cuz he black
Turn around and call him sex offender just cuz he jack
In fact, they’d rather see him hugged up with a man
Saying that’s more respectful than having his **** in his hand
But he only 23 years old, been there since he was 18 for taking the wrong path and road
No time to enjoy life before they snatched his soul
Sometimes he having thoughts that he should have told
Watching people go back to court like they handing out gold
But that ain’t the way he was mold
Real men don’t fold
He’d rather soak in gasoline and put light to his clothes
Today is just a bad day
From the way things look today his birthday and he ain’t got a dime in his books
His locker empty so he feeling down on his luck two weeks before they post
So he knew that he’s stuck
But he’s a strong black man, he gonna keep his head up
Stay strong, black man, and keep your head up

Shalik estimates he’s been incarcerated for 19 of the 35 years he’s been alive. That’s more than half his life. In prison, he lost his father. Later, he lost his little brother. That hurt him deeply. The two had grown close in 2014, building a bond and taking care of each other. Shalik was on parole; his brother was on probation. They took care of each other, went on dates together, played music together. He was murdered, and Shalik couldn’t attend his funeral or be there for their mother. That was his turning point.

Today, Shalik is in a halfway house in Charleston, and enrolled in Turning Leaf and working hard. He says it’s a shame the program is only for people who have been incarcerated. “These skills are helpful for everybody,” he says. Nights and weekends, he goes through the skills with his mother, his sister, his girlfriend – basically anyone who will listen. “Our whole society needs this. The awareness levels, logic, and using good, sound judgment. It could help everyone be more stable.”

“I’ve got a strong spirit,” Shalik says. “I’ve been through a lot. I did a lot right, and I probably did a lot wrong. But through it all my spirit’s never been broken…I’m somebody you can plug into when you need that smile, that lift.”

We love you for your spirit, Shalik, and with your music to guide you and the skills you’re learning at Turning Leaf, we know you can live a beautiful life.

Story Captured by Leah Rhyne

 

Eduardo

Sometimes rough childhoods lead people to criminal acts. Sometimes a lack of family, support, safe housing and warm clothes leads to heartache.

Not always though.

Sometimes it’s the lure of a life lived in the “extra” lane that sets you on a rollercoaster that has the highest highs you can imagine…but also the lowest lows.

That was the case of our student, Eduardo. He wanted more than a regular life could give. To listen to him speak is to listen to someone who has seen it all and has somehow lived to tell the tale. It was our honor to sit down to listen to his story, and as we share it with you, please remember: be careful with the choices you make. The crime lifestyle can be tantalizing, but the consequences can be tremendous.

Compared to some other Turning Leaf students, Eduardo had it all when he was a kid. His mom was a strong, hardworking woman. “She did everything in her instill the best in me,” says Eduardo. “I had decent clothes. We went to church. On vacation.” Eduardo was a good kid. He played peewee football and won a championship trophy in 1972, when he wasn’t even 10 years old. School had its up and downs, but by high school Eduardo was taking advance classes and showing promise.

That said, Eduardo always wanted to be with the older guys, doing what older guys do, having the cool things older guys had. The clothes, the sneakers, the chains. When he was 13, he got his first summer job, cleaning up at an elementary school with older boys. For the first time he could buy his own clothes, as nice as theirs, and fit into their world. He also smoked marijuana for the first time, keeping up with those older boys. “That’s why I can understand peer pressure,” he says. “It plays a big part in people’s lives.”

Maybe marijuana wasn’t a huge deal (yet), but in 10th grade, some jokes with another boy in class got ugly. The other boy got the best of Eduardo, making him feel like a fool in front of all the other kids. The next day Eduardo took a pistol to school and shot the boy three times. “And that’s where my troubles began.”

He served 7 months of a 3 ½ year sentence, a slap on the wrist all things considered. But when he got out, he was already used to a particular lifestyle, and sticking to it felt right. He sold marijuana to earn cash, and when his mom found out she kicked him out. When his neighborhood got raided – he still has a scar on his belly from running from the police that day – Eduardo’s older brother came and took him to live in Georgia. He gave Eduardo a job washing dishes in the restaurant he managed but washing dishes doesn’t pay those “extra” bills.

And “extra” is what Eduardo wanted. At the restaurant, he met some guys involved with local gangs. When one of them said Eduardo looked like he used to hustle, Eduardo wanted to impress him. “I said yeah, and then he said ‘I’m gonna get you the chance to make some money.’”

This was 1980, before Ronald Reagan’s war on drugs began. Eduardo met a guy who handed him $10,000 and more marijuana than he could ever smoke himself, and it opened up a door Eduardo “could never have imagined.” This was Eduardo’s “starter kit.”

From there, Eduardo was all in. He was selling drugs. Doing them, too. Marijuana, cocaine, crack. He partied hard. He had money for all the things he wanted: gold chains, a beeper, and even a Cutlass Supreme. He met a guy with connections in Miami. They stayed out partying, making money hand over fist. Eduardo had women, houses, everything he’d ever wanted and more. It was like a party that would never end.

All parties end, though. First there was a disagreement with an associate when someone was skimming off his cut of the profits. There was an arrest for possession with intent to distribute. Another slap on the wrists, a year of probation. Then another associate sold Eduardo some stolen furniture, setting him up for another arrest. This time he served 18 months for probation violation, and when he got out, he had nothing. No money, no parties. He had to start from scratch in the only business he knew that made enough money to live the lifestyle he was used to. He was building back up when he got picked up on another charge and sentenced to 12 years. This time he served 7 months.

After that, his girlfriend begged him to stay clean, but the thing is: that was his way of life. Selling drugs is what he did. She kicked him out, so Eduardo moved back to Charleston to be with his mom for a clean start. Her house leaked when it rained and he wanted to fix it. Working two “straight” jobs wasn’t giving him enough money, though, and as it turned out, no one in Charleston knew where to get cocaine.

Guess who knew? And guess who got right back in the life of crime?

The highs were even higher. He had connections in Cuba and Atlanta, Miami and Columbia. Making upwards of “half a million dollars, easy,” each week, Eduardo had four houses, all the drugs he wanted. One of his sons got in the business with him. He was living large and loving it.

Until a drug deal went sour, and Eduardo didn’t get the drugs he paid for from a contact in Columbia. He tried to be patient, and counseled his cousin, who was in on the same deal deal, to wait. His cousin couldn’t wait, though, and got busted on a small-time deal in the middle of a highway. When they caught Eduardo’s cousin and brought him in, the police told him, “’Either you bring us Bin Laden or you bring us your cousin’…and he sure couldn’t bring them Bin Laden.”

They busted Eduardo, for real this time. “There were two armored cars, an armored tank, firetrucks, an ambulance,” he says. “They started looking for me at 2:30 and didn’t catch me until 9:30.” He was sentenced to 20 years, two years in high security after he put his hands on an officer in prison.

Ten years into his sentence, Eduardo lost his mother. She passed away without his having the chance to say goodbye.

Prison gave Eduardo a chance to begin to turn his life around. A two-year-stint in a drug rehab program was a huge help, and when he was released after 15 years, a chance encounter in his halfway house with a student at Turning Leaf brought him to our doors. Here, he’s working hard to learn how to analyze his choices. He uses the tools he’s been taught to keep himself out of trouble, and away from a life of crime.

“I ain’t a bad guy,” he says, in looking back on his life. “I was young, and I chose the path I did because I wanted to be in the ‘in crowd,” but that wasn’t the right thing to do.”

He’s paid for his crimes, in prison time and beyond. He’s learned hard lessons along the way. “I had two sons. I lost one – he got killed by law enforcement. And the other got 40 years in prison. I failed them. If I could turn back time, I would, but I can’t. If you have someone you care about, you got to show them you really care. Because once they’re gone, you can’t. I wanted to be a loving father, but I took the wrong path. You can live a good life crime-free.”

Yes, Eduardo, you’re 100% right. You can life a good life crime-free, and we believe you’re on the right path to get there. Good luck, friend. We are here for you always!

Story Captured by Leah Rhyne