They know what it's like growing up without a lot of support from family. That led Raymont Becton and Thomas Lawton to the streets. Now they're doing their part to save other children who might be headed for the same kind of trouble. They're using their past to give teens a brighter future.
Raymont is no stranger to the streets of Savannah. "I saw a lot of robberies, murders, a few of my friends got killed in this area," he said of the neighborhood around 39th Street and Waters Avenue.
As a teen, he ran around with the wrong crowd, gambling and dealing drugs. He ultimately ended up behind bars.
It's a pattern he saw other youths following as well. "When I was incarcerated, I saw more youths coming in than anything. I was like whoa, this don't look right."
Now it's a pattern he's trying to break.
Raymont and his cousin, Thomas, are opening up a youth community center at 39th and Waters called Reality Check Community Outreach. They're helping kids invest more positively in their own future.
The building, recently donated to the men for free, needs a lot of work. It has no electricity and leaky pipes. To some it would seem an eyesore. But To Raymont and Thomas, it's a dream come true.
When complete, the center will be a safe haven and learning center, keeping kids off the street and out of trouble.
"They will see that they're not outcasts, somebody is willing to listen to them and work with them," Raymont.
"I feel like I'm a role model, like a big brother to the neighborhood," said Thomas. "So if they see one person with their foot forward, heading in the right direction, it could lead a lot down the right path."
Giving kids a head start Raymont and Thomas never had.
Some city leaders are also throwing their support behind the center. There will be a youth rally this weekend at Daffin Park:
March 4th, 4pm - 7 pm: "Concert of Celebration"
March 5th, 10am - 4pm: "Festival of Motivation"
March 6th, 4pm - 7pm: "Empowerment Revival"
For more information, you can call Raymont Becton at 631.3865 or Thomas Lawton at 631.0678.