CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- When it comes to reaching at-risk youth in Chattanooga, one man is making a world of difference. The former convict has turned his life around and now is working to do the same for younger generations.
Just a few months ago Steven 'Skip' Eberhardt felt compelled to recruit teens to get their G.E.D.s. He is also recruited retired teachers to give their time to tutor them.
"I lived the street life and it took me this long to realize what I was doing was sort of like, wrong, and that there's a better way," says Eberhardt.
Sixty-two-year-old Steven 'Skip' Eberhardt has spent time in and out of jail but now he devotes his time to the organization he started two months ago: 'Saving Kids, Instilling Pride.'
"Everybody talking about all the violence, giving them all that free time, they don't have nothing to do, so I started to try and intervene to help them get jobs," says Eberhardt.
Skip canvases the streets, recruiting those looking for a new start and it is not just young people.
"Education is very important and this is my second chance over here," says 38-year-old Michael Walker.
Walker is working toward passing the G.E.D. exam.
"It's helping me further my education and get better jobs and I can do more for my family than what I've been doing," he says.
Skip provides transportation to tutoring classes, where people like Ron White are leading the charge.
"I just have a passion for helping kids learn their math and everything," says White.
White is retired from the military and once taught high school math. He now teaches classes several times a week.
"Once you see the light bulbs coming on, how do you not do that to help the kids?"
"You get the right outreach, you can take 30 kids out of a gang in a month," says Boyd Patterson.
Patterson is Chattanooga's Gang Task Force coordinator.
He says the city needs more people like Skip hitting the streets and getting young people to hit the books.
"Everybody in Chattanooga can look and see what Skip is doing and see exactly what needs to be done on a larger scale. He's not getting paid to do this," says Patterson.
"It makes me feel good, real good," says Eberhardt.
Skip is working with a group of about 20 young people. Out of the first 15 that took their G.E.D. test, 12 passed. Right now another group is prepping for their test on the 20th.
For more information on Saving Kids Instilling Pride, call 423-704-7181 or email Skip at: email@example.com