Marvin D., Operations Supervisor in Fort Worth, Texas, is also the co-director of Violence Intervention Prevention Fort Worth (VIP FW). The program is combatting gang violence and relies on ex-convicts and ex-gang members to reach and connect with young people in the city’s toughest neighborhoods. We sat down with Marvin to learn about the critical work he is doing in his community. Here’s an excerpt from this interview.
What mentoring programs are you involved with?
I’ve been mentoring for over 15 years. I am now part of VIP FW which is focused on helping the most at risk, most violent children in the City of Fort Worth. These young people are known to be involved with gangs, crimes or shootings, or actively on parole or probation. Society might call these kids “the worst of the worst;” but I disagree. I know they just need love, support and guidance.
Would you share with us a little about your upbringing?
I can truly connect with these young people, as I can relate to them and they can relate to me. I grew up without a father in the household. I had the same struggles as the young men I target.
I am immensely blessed that I didn’t go to prison. The way I was living, it was inevitable, and I had embraced it as my reality. I was spared for a reason and I believe that reason is to give back. To help guide these young people and help them see themselves in another way.
I love to serve my community and I have a passion for giving back, especially to our young people. In addition to mentoring I also do Meals on Wheels and we serve the homeless. With my mentees, we not only serve the homeless meals, but we sit with them and we eat with them. We talk with them. I want to hear their stories. I want to hear how they ended up where they are today. These experiences and stories help the mentees understand just how fortunate they are.
How does your career at Republic Services set a good example for these mentees?
I talk with my mentees about my job and about our industry, and that they too can work toward acquiring a good job with a stable income, and that this is attainable even without having a college degree. I tell them, “I did it and so can you, I was determined to beat the odds.” For many of the mentees, this is very inspiring to them. I talk with them about securing their commercial license, and we also work on conflict resolution, self-discipline, anger management and other preparations and training for acquiring and sustaining viable employment.
This is the best job I have ever had and it’s because I love to engage people. As a supervisor, I’m engaging 80 to 100 people every morning. I set the tone for their day. When they come in early in the morning and they are tired or grumpy or something happened at home the night before, I tell them to leave it at the door and encourage them to adjust their attitude according to how they want their day to go. I love to engage and positively impact people. I desire to help people reach their apex. This industry and this job have been a true blessing for me and my family, I take nothing for granted.
Thank you, Marvin, for being a positive influence at work, at home and in your community!