On December 14th, Red Eye Inc. held a toy drive and Christmas party at the Imperial Housing Court Project of Watts, complete with gifts under the tree, fake snow, a photo booth, out of control cute kids, and the bearded guest of honor, good ol’ Santa Claus. In conjunction with the birthday of Red Eye Inc. co-founder Justin Mayo, and with support from members of the Anti-recidevism Coalition (ARC), a volunteer group comprised of ex convicts who’ve made it their mission to help mentor youth and keep them safe from a life of crime and gang violence, Christmas came early for a number of under-served, inner-city families. Our friend Dan Regan was part of the dream-making team that made the day so special for so many families. Below, he shares a little bit about his own involvement with Red Eye Inc.
The dynamic of the community is unreal. They are so close knit. There are just so many influences around them and all the adults in the community are so visible to the kids, there’s no escaping it. Red Eye has being going down to the neighborhood now for 5 years and the change has been drastic. The parents want their kids to be around these mentors and the kids genuinely look forward to it. This year I felt really moved to give back, having myself been given a second chance at life. When I first met the kids around Halloween, I immediately saw myself in them. As a youth I struggled with gang life and crime, so I know all too well what they are up against. I tip-toed that line for a long time, and it did eventually get the best of me over the years. Having been able to change my ways and put distance between me and that past life has given me an amazing perspective. I feel socially responsible to make an impact in the lives of these promising at risk youth.