THE DRIVING FORCE behind RENU E N U - THE DRIVING FORCE
At an annual Super Bowl party I ran into a friend I have known for almost 40 years now. He has a beautiful wife and adorable daughter named Justice. Few would know how befitting her name is and how it resonates with me so personally. Dad is now in his 50's and gone back to college: SMU Law School. He builds and remodels homes and recently made a bid for Dallas City Council. Few know his entire story but this man literally changed my life. Along the way..... I helped transform his.
When we first met my landscape and irrigation company was working on a restaurant project in Fort Worth and I told my superintendent we needed some more workers. He saw two young men walking along the highway as he was headed to the job site. We gave them both a job. They were both just 16. I did not know it until later but I quickly learned they liked to get drunk,fight, steal cars and generally disobey the law in no particular order.
I spent years getting him out of jail on a regular basis. The calls would come at all hours of the day or night. DUI, Fighting, stolen vehicle, petty theft. I can't remember it all only that it was a pain driving down to different jails around Dallas County and bailing him out at strange hours with my money, my time, my busy schedule and my loss of sleep. It was like having my own problem child and I did not have any kids. This one, I guess I could have gotten rid of but I never did. The other boy, whom I spent very little time with, is dead. That too is a recurring theme but for another time and another story.
As I was turning 50 I half jokingly thought about what I wanted to do with the second half of my life. I loved being a builder (as I grew into over the years) but then I also loved building lives. By then I had mentored hundreds of young and not so young men and a few women since that first young man. I'd give them jobs and teach them how to have a better life. I would focus on helping them learn various building trades and life-skills. It wasn't until decades later that my friend finally admitted what I had known all along. He would be in prison if we had not met. His admission brought tears to my eyes and made all those sacrificial trips to bail him out and work to train him out of his bad habits... all worthwhile.
Soon after I turned 50, we founded Renu Foundation and the Renu SOLUTION to help build programs that would help build better lives, stronger families and more vibrant communities while helping the environment. Over the years I had realized the major building blocks of a good life are pretty simple: A good afordable Home, Education, Job, Nutrition and a safe clean Environment. Sounds simple enough. However, these days building a Public Charity is far harder than building a for-profit operation. Regulations, rules, IRS mandates, Board Members and meetings, Federal Filings, State Filings, Community governments that look at you as a threat to their jobs. It is a winding and often narrow road overlooking many deep cliffs. It has involved years of legal battles in the courts. Fights with tax appraisers who don't want you to be tax exempt because it cuts their revenue and budgets. People who don't like you just because. People afraid of those you are trying to help. It goes on and on.
As an admittedly sometimes hard headed man myself , it is difficult to believe that I can deal with murders and sex offenders, transform drug dealers and con artists into executives and get beat by a Public Charity or a community leader. So we are digging in our heals, grabbing our aging hearts and diving in with both feet. We are out knocking on doors, soliciting donations, running the good race and looking for others to come beside us so that we can continue to build more good families with daughters named Justice. This has become our driving force. Won't you join us and become part of the SOLUTION.
Kirk T. Melton, Founder and Executive Director