JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The founder of Metro Kids Konnection in Jacksonville is working to curb gun violence not by changing laws, but by helping change lives.
Terry Lane opened up a cabinet business near the Cleveland Arms Apartments in northwest Jacksonville in the 1980s.
Lane said he had 40 employees, a contract with Stein Mart, and within a short time 40 bullet holes in his building. It's those bullets that lead him to walk away from his cabinet business, but not away from the community.
"I was sitting on the tailgate of my pickup truck one night with a .357
Magnum in my hand guarding the cars while we worked late on the Stein Mart project and I was looking over in to the community," Lane said."I just felt like the Lord said if you love those that despitefully use you, I'll take care of it."
The next day he says he put his pistol away and bought basketballs.
"I wrote Mr. Lane loves you on the basketball, and the Mid Lane company, that was the name of my cabinet shop loves you and I just threw basketballs over the fence week after week after week," said Lane.
Lane said he is often referred to as Pastor Terry and Dad by kids in the Cleveland Arms community. He says he took them under his wing and has continued to mentor them.
Ten years later he says he left his cabinet business and with the help of his wife started Metro Kids Konnection.
Johnella Dubose started in the program when she was just nine years old. Now 25, she is the director of Metro Kids Konnection.
Dubose said, "I was one of the ones that actually graduated from high school and went on to college . If it wasn't for him, I don't know where I would be."
From helping kids with their homework to having a safe place just to have fun Lane says it all boils down to two things, teaching the kids respect and responsibility.
Fourth grader Takiyah Greene said, "It's made me be me. I get encouraged. I get help....The reason why I come here is to make my life better."
"I've learned a lot of new stuff. We get to have fun, use laptops, go outside and play and just be ourselves," said Josua Mott, 10.
About 75 kids now attend the free after school program and get a hot meal every day. The building also houses a Voluntary Pre-K Program and a program for high school dropouts.
"We had a Metro Cleveland Arms reunion out here in this field and I had over 1500 people come. Some giving me hugs. Telling me thank you Pastor Terry. You built this for us...I told my wife when I got home that if being honored and respected by a group of people makes you wealthy, then I'm wealthy," said Lane.
He is now eyeing another project to help the community.Lane hopes to get an empty field across the street from Metro Kids Konnection donated so he can reach out to those with criminal records and those in need to teach them how to be cabinet makers and use the skills to transform their lives.
He calls it project based education, and said he has seen first hand how it can truly change lives.
Lane is also looking for sponsors to help with funding and providing food for the daily hot meals served at Metro Kids Connections.
To visit the Metro Kids Connection Facebook page click here.
First Coast News