We recently introduced you to Franklinton Rising, a non-profit organization working to change the lives of teens and young adults by teaching construction skills and preparing them for full-time employment. The group is currently remodeling a home on Chicago Avenue. During my first visit to the house, I met 25-year-old DeVille Morrow. He has been with Franklinton Rising since March. My first impression of Morrow was of a soft-spoken, friendly guy who displayed a genuine love for building homes. But there is much more to Morrow’s story. The struggles he has had to overcome make his positive attitude and determination to succeed that much more inspiring.
Morrow moved to Columbus in 2011, but was born and raised in Chicago. He briefly told me about some of the activity he witnessed on a regular basis as a child– gang fights, shootings, drug deals, home robberies, and people dying. Morrow said he did his best to keep himself and his younger siblings away from the violence. He also said it was his older brother who taught him how to survive in such a rough environment. The reason that job fell to his brother was because Morrow’s father was not around to do it. He told me his father was convicted of murder when Morrow was just 3, and has been in prison ever since. The two have managed to sustain a relationship though, and his dad’s experience motivates Morrow to live a better life. “He always told me, be smart. To not let other people influence me… And I told myself, that if I had my own kids, I’d make sure I’m in their life. I’d show them a good path so they don’t have to go through struggles.”
Morrow has stayed true to that promise. He has 3 young sons: DeVarrion, DeMonte and Dekhai. He’s raising the boys on his own. Morrow told me the children’s mother developed a cocaine habit in 2015. “My kids are perfectly healthy, I made sure of that… We see her every few months, but only if I take the boys to see her. Because she doesn’t make any effort. She doesn’t do what she needs to as a mother.”
Morrow described the difficulties that followed after his ex-girlfriend stopped helping with their sons. Morrow says she dropped the boys off one day in 2015 and never came back for them. Soon after, he lost his job because he didn’t have anyone to help look after the kids. The young family ran out of money, and had to go to a shelter. “We spent 1 month and 6 days in the shelter, before I was able to get an apartment.”
Fast forward to today– Morrow is dedicated to sticking on an honest path in order to keep his family together. Morrow says he was briefly involved in some questionable activity around the time he joined Franklinton Rising; he needed the money to feed his kids. But Franklinton Rising enabled him to get off that path entirely. “If I would’ve kept going the other route, I probably would’ve ended up messing up, and having to start over… I made sacrifices taking on my 3 kids. I didn’t want them in different places. I made sure they were together, with me. I save as much money as I can, even if it’s just $10 per paycheck. I gotta work my way up… I’m trying to set a positive example for them, trying to make a good living and make stuff happen, so that they don’t have to resort to illegal ways to make money.”
Morrow will complete his training by the end of November. Franklinton Rising is assisting in his job search.