“Flash back to two years ago, we had just entered Roseland...” Storyteller: Darrion Lewis

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We all have places that we go to and people that we meet that change everything about our lives. For Darrion Lewis, our Community Director of the Roseland Community Center, coming to Behind Every Door changed everything for him. This week, we get the privilege to talk to him again about coming to “The Rose.” Let’s see what he had to say:

Eighteen months ago, I arrived here. I came from working in the Juvenile Department. I served as a probation officer for Juveniles prior to being here. I have seen a lot of hardship, going to court, representing families in the community. Attempting to keep youth out of jail and I’ve dealt with some hardships of some of your more high-profile cases in the metroplex. Some of the cases that you see on TV, were some of the kids that I had to supervise or even had to come in contact with.

Needless to say, The Lord led me here. I had been knowing Will for a while. I used to volunteer a little bit because my church was located—maybe not even a mile away from the village location. So we would come down for basketball tournaments and things of that extent--trying to be some representation of the community. Fast forward, Will gave me a call one day and Will asked, “would you consider a career change?” It was something that I couldn’t deny at that point. I knew it would be drastically different coming from that area to this area, but it wasn’t so much. It was more so one of those things where it was preparation (I felt like from God) to ultimately walk into the new phase of the new season He had called. So, eighteen months, we come on-site, we're here.

But the idea of staying here was not an immediate buy-in from the community. In so many ways, the community was accustomed to people coming in, just doing something and leaving. And in so many ways, the community had to understand that we were here to stay. As a family, with that family dynamic, when life hits. When everything is going haywire sometimes, you just need to know that someone is there and we're here. So, eighteen months ago, the first couple of days, I met about 10-12 high school-aged young men. They kind of just gravitated towards me and we gravitated towards each other. And over pizza and wings, we were able to discuss some things and they were encouraged to dream big.

They wanted to play basketball so bad, they couldn't see anything bigger than basketball at the time. However, after continuing to encourage them to dream bigger, bigger and bigger, they came up with an idea of just transforming the way this building looked. Example, they wanted new floors. Mr. Lewis isn’t in the decor ministry. So, I sent them home and I gave them homework and I said, "Hey, go watch HGTV and if you see some floors you like, bring them back and we'll try to make something happen." They brought floors back similar to this, we were able to match them, and this is simply why you have the floors you have now. They had the idea of a fresh new feel because, you know oftentimes in their history, they had been getting hammy downs and different things like that. They wanted things to be new. So, intentionally we were able to come up with fresh new things for them. And mainly, it built a sense of ownership in them that was transformative to the community’s perspective on having new things in the community center. The community said, "well if you put new things in the community center, but then three months it'll be destroyed. You're putting TV's up? Really? They'll be stolen. No." We're here maybe eighteen or nineteen months later and it still looks great! So in changing the narrative, we've been able to do so with them. I can't even say that it's been something that we've been doing, it's been more so of the things they've been able to embrace, and they are taking ownership, they're coming every day. Our program is voluntary, so they come every day, they choose to be here…”

And we choose to be here for our kids. We are so thankful for the words that Darrion chose to share with us. We’re excited for more testimonials just like this one! Stay tuned!

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Jasmine Morris