LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – It’s no secret that many former felons struggle after paying their debt to society.
Tonight’s My Town Hero has had a tremendous impact in the Little Rock community by helping ex-offenders provide for themselves and their families without falling back into a life of crime.
From housing to job opportunities, ex-offenders have had doors shut in their faces everywhere they go, but if there’s one person they can turn to its Darlene Lewis.
“I had a son go to prison many years ago and when he got out of prison it was so difficult for him to get a job,” said Darlene Lewis.
It was then, in 1987 that Lewis decided to start the non-profit, Lewis Burnett Employment Finders. She quickly began calling companies to help ex-felons find jobs.
“She takes the no away because she directs you somewhere that’s going to get you a job,” said James Taylor.
Taylor, who was released from prison in 1999, now volunteers at Lewis Burnett.
He even coaches a basketball team for children of ex-offenders, that Lewis started to help keep them off the streets.
“She’s been a motivator, a comforter and she’s helped me in a lot of ways especially with the team,” said Taylor.
Taylor says the tools she’s given him not only helped him find work, but directed him down a path to a fulfilling life.
Through the Lewis Burnett company, ex-offenders are able to take advantage of services such as pre-employment training, GED preparation, resume writing, and computer training all at no cost.
“Seeing her do the things she do for people and not get paid is very inspiring,” said Taylor.
The company runs solely on donations, many of which have come from Lewis herself.
“I truly believe that if you don’t give a man a way to take care of himself he’s going to find a way,” said Lewis.
Her endless dedication towards helping others help themselves over the past the 30 years has inspired everyone around her, especially Taylor, to him she’s heroic in every sense of the word.
“She saves people, she need a cape. I’ma get her one, one day,” said Taylor.
Last year alone, Lewis Burnett Employment Finders helped over 2,000 ex-offenders find full-time employment.
If you know someone in your community who goes above and beyond, email us information about them and what makes them a hero to firstname.lastname@example.org.