A Central Texas nonprofit organization that focuses on helping at-risk youth is looking to expand.
Transforming Life Center opened back in 2012 by a former high school guidance counselor who wanted to be able to do more for kids seeking help.
"I had a young man that was playing Russian roulette, and he killed himself. And that same year, I had another young man who was in a gang, and he wouldn't do something that the gang members wanted him to do and so they found his body someplace out close to Waco," LaDonna Harris, the Executive Director of Transforming Life Center, said.
It was at that time, Harris, a former guidance counselor for Shoemaker High School, knew Bell and Coryell counties needed something more.
"We do not want them to fall through the cracks," Harris added.
Aaliyah Mays, now 23 and a mother, says she got into trouble and was kicked out of school her senior year of high school.
"I felt like I was just gonna be another statistic in Killeen."
So she, like many others over the past five years, found help at Transforming Life Center. It serves at-risk youth ages 13 to 21 helping them stay in school, get into college, and find jobs.
Organizers say they want to serve more, to make more of a difference.
"It's amazing to see the potential that a lot of the youth have, they just need sometimes, someone to help bring it out," Tony Johnson, a mentor at Transforming Life Center, said.
That's what Mr. Johnson did for a number of mentees including Rudy Fasano who doesn't know what he would have done without him.
"Probably would've eventually wound up in jail. I would've been with the wrong people, friends that aren't really friends," Rudy Fasano said.
Reflecting on all the stories and knowing they've made a difference makes mentors hopeful the community will step in and help their program expand.
"Our youth are our tomorrow. If we don't help today, then they'll be in jail, prison, dead. There is an urgency to help our young people because they're going down a wrong way. We can close our blinds, we can close our doors and act like we don't see, we don't hear, but the reality is that if we don't help our youth today, then the things that are going to transpire around our community is not going to be good," Harris said.
If you would like to donate to help Transforming Life Center reach their goal of $300,000 to purchase a new home and land to transform into a youth center, you find their GoFundMe account here.
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