I was a freshly out prison after completing a 14 year sentence and attempting to find my place in this new world and put my life together both financially and emotionally. All while thinking to myself how can I actually make a difference in the world starting with the community I relocated to which in this story starts with Las Vegas. I had to make a drastic change so I wouldn’t have to be surrounded by old friends that could sway me back to the lure of fast money, drugs, and a lifestyle that only ends up one way…back in prison with a life sentence or death.
The long term goal was to actually do something with my past and knowledge to help, but which way and how was my huge question. I wanted to be able to use my expertise (or experiences) to show moms, dads, and their kids about choices and the effects it can have on each other. Now we are not just talking about going to prison, but the emotional toll both have on each other and what could ultimately happen if both sides never have good communication and listening to each other.
Now trying to do this with ex-felons, ex-drug addicts, and with people only worrying about themselves can be a mountain to climb in itself. So I kept it quiet for a few years, or like trying to move a rock by yourself
The important things are I was looking for the best people to work with. Which indicated I wasn’t able to just come out and say let’s go help these kids and families change! Not to mention start a new life basically begin a brand-new season in a state I didn’t know, find a job that could pay for my court fines, and back child support…I was up a hill with basically no legs.
After teaching multiple classes and volunteering around the area and searching for a reputable program to bring my passion to help, it was actually really hard to find.
To make things worse, I felt horrible since there was not a program that concentrated on young people and their struggles at home. I felt drained because in a 24 hr town the situation and resources that are out there are far and few. But I kept waiting because I would not have the ability to assist kids to transform along with their families and also shed all this knowledge. Finding the right team I knew at this point was going to take some time.
The trouble was that my area was only focused on homeless and also drug abusers. Which implied doing talks at these places might just show me the path of where I eventually wanted to go with this, a few interviewing classes, resume classes at certain places and nothing.
Then, as if by coincidence, something impressive occurred …
That’s when I one of my students actually told me that there is this retired federal probation police officer aiding young people and you would be perfect at this… his exact words ” let’s face it some of these guys you teach will never move one, why not make a difference so they don’t end up here like us” HOLY CRAP, now this is what I have been waiting for and to have one of my students that has changed now gave me the direction I was waiting for.
It was currently crystal clear to me how to keep going and waiting for the correct time and place to look for the opportunity that could make the biggest impact.
I additionally found out that not all programs are with good intention for a certain type of individuals, you need to work alongside great individuals with the same broad view goal rather than this is my program my way or it’s all about the funding.
Ultimately I got in touch with the founder of the program to see how I can help, and at one meeting at a coffee shop, I knew this was the program for me and many others. The cool requisite from this moving on was I had to be an ex-convict and willing to talk to kids and their families…YOU KNOW I WAS IN.
After that one meeting, I started sharing my life stories with their kids about the prison time, the drugs, the gangs, the criminal lifestyle, the pain, the things I’ve done, and ultimately the consequences. The prison time, the things you had to do to survive, the wasted time and what I would have done to change it all.
Astonishingly, when you look at the crowd your speaking to, and sometimes its 100 kids and you look into their eyes and you know they are looking for help and you can provide some clarity. You know you are on the right mission.
That’s when I understood that the secret to putting my life together and helping other families do the same would be my calling. Call it divine intervention, call it a blessing but this path could save lives, and even yours and your loved ones.
The Strategy was to see what more we could do as a team to help many more so got to know more of the other speakers, their time, their situations and we were on the same exact mission.
The plan was to begin obtaining more speakers that shared the vision, to get more attendees, and more programs out to our community.
So I began addressing certain things to see how we as a family, team make it better and easier for all of us to make our mark in the world.
We after developed a far better plan to get to even more lives, by taking what we do digitally on all platforms and invite people to see us interact with families. Their issues, their dynamics, all from speakers that have been in both the youth’s shoes and their direction and open the parent’s eyes to people like us.
After that, we developed the real talk * real tales * real change digital versions.
However, there was still a problem …
With so many personalities, and expertise we had to come together as one.
We had a team of different ideas, and various approaches yet we still desired the exact same objective to assist more kids and families with our past. So why not have a much better way than to mimic a talk show or podcast that we can introduce everybody as well as ultimately talk about subjects that resolve a few of the problems we speak about at our physical location.
So with a few tweaks, a few opinions, and some action
We ended up doing facebook lives on our personal page so we could share our passion, interviewing each other and the reasoning behind the program. What better way to have something you are a part of to share with someone that needs or wants.
We chose to call it “Real Talk * Real Stories * Real Change” due to the fact that there is room to change through genuine interaction and we as a family of the Real Talk Youth Impact Program are ambassadors of change.
We assumed if we developed something that would make it possible to have it shared and later turn into a digital course why not use or have video clips that we can all stream and have a far better reach later in the future, we ‘d having something tangible to work with and build upon.
After a few talks with the board, our director we simply began to do it with our founding speakers or long period of time members, we produced genuine talk * actual tales * genuine change…and it became something we all could be proud of.
As of this moment, we currently plan a digital stream to have a couple of questions prepared and answered prepping for the bigger picture which is addressing issues.
The support from the community was overwhelming because parents are intrigued, law enforcement needs a voice, counselors applaud this, the community needs some thing like this…and speakers came out of the woodwork asking how can they get more involved. Is it a success…not quite yet, but its a start.
As an outcome of all this we were able to accomplish the following:
Stream a real-time video clip once a week, placed it on youtube, collect speakers that intend to aid, put it on podcast, as well as have the ability to share the content that could have more worth to a person or someone they know that might want some help with the expertise and message of our program.
Oh and by the way the transition was not easy, and putting it together with some sort of structure to putting down a lot of egos’ but we are here to stay.
After creating Real Talk * Real Stories * Real Change, we were not just able to our change lives but change many more, we have actually also been able to quit spinning our wheels believing we need to be in-person to assist households or the kids due to the fact that we can currently get our message throughout on many different systems and platforms to share even more..
In reality, nobody wants to hear the things we speak about, to talk about the trouble with the youth in today’s generation…buy the things we as a program address are the truth. But the truth can and always set us free. When a bunch of misfits, ex-felons, ex-gang members, and a retired federal probation officer can pour their hearts out to change one life at a time, why not hear the stories and testimonials to change a community.