Mid-South Hero: Man uses childhood experiences to help the community

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 6:45 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - How does a 15-year-old high school dropout who grew up in Memphis’ housing projects leave a community inundated with drug activity and violence and become an advocate for other young people’s legacy?

It wasn’t easy for this month’s Mid-South Hero, but his childhood trauma is bearing fruit, rewards, and success. Thereby, leaving lasting footprints in neighborhoods and young people.

Charlie Caswell turned trauma into a legacy, founding Legacy of Legends, a community development corporation that has partnered with health professionals to work with Memphis students on adverse childhood experiences and the anger associated with it.

“That trauma that child has early on in life, it comes out largely in a ripple effect of social, emotional disturbance,” said Caswell. Maybe ending up in jail, failing in school. It has a long-term effect where they may even can not be employed.”

Those ripple effects would be the catalyst to Caswell’s never-quit attitude.

He also had community leaders like former Memphis police director, Toney Armstrong, who pushed and encouraged him to do better.

Caswell traveled across the country and overseas, seeking solutions to curb violence for his fellow neighbors. He says it starts with outreach and practicing his “Ps”.

“Being able to work with the pastors, police, the politicians, the parents, principals, proprietors, and partners in our community has been a model that we have adopted and adapted to the work we do here in this city,“ Caswell said.

Caswell helped create a new vision for life and DeQuan Curry’s future. And it started with a phone call. Every time Curry called Caswell, he picked up immediately and questions rang out. “How can I help? How can I serve you?”

So, for Curry, the exposure to a new way of making a legitimate living for himself changed his outlook on his future forever.

“Little did he know, he started becoming my hero,” said Curry.

“Anybody that meets Charlie is immediately his best friend. He just sucks you in with his joy for life, his passion for young people, and his absolute unstoppable energy,” said Lisa Moore.

Reaching out to every member of this society in hopes of building a sustainable family of communities is the goal of Legacy of Legends.

To pour hope into your community may not change the world right away, but it will most definitely change a young person’s life today

“So, this is really what drives this work and me being able to help other people who have had trauma to be able to work on our staff, to work with other people in our community,” Caswell said.

“I just want to be like him when I grow up. Be like Charlie. Everyone be like Charlie,” said Moore.

Congratulations Charlie Caswell! You are this month’s Mid-South Hero.

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