Fleeing police at age nineteen, Terryon was shot twice; once in the chest and another in the arm during an attempted armed robbery. He spent a month in the hospital, then three years in prison. Although an unfortunate story, Terryon’s situation is not uncommon in the area he’s from: the inner-city.
However, there is hope for kids and teens in downtown West Palm Beach. Urban Youth Impact (UYI) is an organization founded by Bill Hobbs (known as Mr. Bill on campus), whose mission is to love, equip and empower inner-city youth and their parents to fulfill their God-given purpose.
Terryon’s younger brother grew up involved with UYI, but Terryon said when he was younger, “I had no interest. I wanted to do what I wanted to do.” Then, in prison, an older inmate told him, “Do some good for once and see how far you get.”
“When I got out of prison, I saw that my cousin, Ricky, gave his life over to the Lord. He’s telling me I should come to (UYI) and talk with Mr. Bill, but I just had a lot of pride, you know,” Terryon shares.
Through UYI, Terryon’s brother also gave his life over to the Lord. He encouraged Terryon to do the same. When asked how UYI changed his life, Terryon responded, “For me to humble myself and walk from one side of town to the other–that was nobody but the Lord. And then, Mr. Bill sat me down, talked to me, saying he could get me a job, but it was up to me if I wanted to keep that job.”
First, Mr. Bill asked him to detail his truck to see how serious Terryon was about making changes. “(Mr. Bill) let me know how his windows were smeared. So, I went over it. It turned out good. He paid me then.” Then, Mr. Bill asked him to pick up around the building and mop floors. Terryon continued to prove himself, and finally was given the maintenance job at UYI.
Yet, shortly after his promotion, Terryon shares that “my hours got cut when the economy and everything got bad for (Mr. Bill).” At that point in Terryon’s life, he was still walking the line, going to church and clubbing. “I was like, ‘Ah, man, they done drop my hours.’ I was just about to give up. But the Lord was like, ‘Be still.’ And so, I was still, waiting on Him. He pulled through.”
Terryon persevered, obtained his high school degree and rededicated himself to the Lord. “My hours went up and I got another position being a Disciplinary Assistant (at UYI).”
“The Lord has been coming through. Now, I bought a car. That’s a lot. It was the Lord that put it on Mr. Bill’s heart to open up that door for me. I thank God for Him,” he adds.
When asked what his goals were, Terryon said, “I don’t see myself two, three years down the line. I basically go day to day, because I never know when the Lord’s gonna come back. So I have to make sure that I’m doing the right thing today just in case He comes back today.”
God has given Terryon a vision for UYI: how to give back to the community and help kids avoid the mistakes he made. “I feel like that’s why I’m here. To help advance The Kingdom, like get the kids here at Urban Youth involved with Bow Down (Church). I don’t want to be just a vessel; I want to be a broken vessel. Whatever He blessed me with, I want to be able to bless someone who doesn’t have.”
Changing lives of inner-city kids for Christ is exactly what UYI is accomplishing. They offer a Community Health Center (the largest free clinic in Palm Beach County), summer work programs, camps and youth ministries, to name a few. But, UYI’s flagship project is The Leadership Academy (TLA).
TLA serves one hundred and seven afterschool students through tutoring, literacy learning, faith-based instruction and life-skills lessons. Parents pay fifty dollars a year for one child, and one hundred dollars for the entire family. Actual UYI cost: five thousand per student. With a waiting list of children to enroll, UYI desires to expand TLA to serve an additional two hundred and fifty kids.
“I know there are more people like me who want a chance to leave the streets and start over. UYI is one of the few places in the hood pointing kids to a better way of life,” Terryon shares.
On March 27 and 28, UYI will host a Charity Auction Dinner and Golf Classic. Funds raised enable them to continue these important programs.
For information about UYI, volunteer opportunities, or the upcoming fundraiser, visit: www.urbanyouthimpact.com. Better yet, stop by for a tour and buy a bag of Impact Coffee from their internship program, another Life supporting UYI