Program teaches convicted felons valuable job, life skills

(WMC Action News 5)
Updated: Jan. 21, 2019 at 3:31 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Over the next several months, 22 convicted felons will get the chance to turn their lives around while learning valuable skills.

The restoration project LifeLine 2 Success broke ground in Binghampton on Monday.

Organizers said it’s inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“I believe Dr. King would be very proud,” said executive director Deandre Brown.

An abandoned apartment complex will be restored using the work of convicted felons, which is part of the program.

“We've taken individuals that society has cast away and we're putting them in position to turn neighborhoods around and in the process, turn their lives around,” Brown said.

It will take about three months to turn the apartment complex into six modern one-bedroom apartments. In those months, the LifeLine 2 Success members will learn critical life skills.

“They will have the opportunity to get cross trained in electrical, HVAC, plumbing as well as carpentry aspects of the construction trade,” said Billy Irby, general contractor with Irby Enterprise.

Irby Enterprises is the company that purchased the property and will train 22 LifeLine 2 Success members.

Irby started Irby Enterprises eight years ago and is a graduate of the LifeLine 2 Success program.

“It's mandatory that we pay it forward,” Irby said. “It's mandatory that we be true advocates of paying it forward.”

“It's not too much that we can do as convicted felons in the community to uplift ourselves or our children, so this project is basically a stepping stone for some of us,” said LifeLine member Alex Bolton.

Before work began, the LifeLife 2 Success members used the program's rallying cry for inspiration.

“I am not my crime! I am not my past! I am new! I will succeed! I will succeed!” they said.

To learn more about the program, visit their website.

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