Neighbor takes action after shootings

Johnny Byrd focuses on hiring at-risk teens and people with criminal records

DAVENPORT, Iowa - After a string of recent shootings in Davenport, a local business owner is trying to inspire change.

Johnny Byrd says at-risk teens need a strong role model to keep them out of trouble.

After being a troubled teen himself, Byrd is giving people with a criminal past a second chance.

"First thing I do, if you can work tomorrow and show up in the morning you have a job," Byrd said.

Since Byrd started his cleaning and maintenance company, Get Right, ten years ago, he's been hiring at-risk teens and people with criminal records, giving them a job they otherwise wouldn't have.

One who has taken advatage of the opportunity is Broderick Gordon.

"Because of those bad things you can't get a job; you have a longer period of no work experience," Gordon said. "You don't have a license so even if you could get a job you have to walk there or ride the bus."

Byrd picks up his workers every morning and he teaches them painting, drywall, landscaping and basement waterproofing -- all viable work skills that have made a difference in Gordon's life.

"Right now I work at Hotel Blackhawk as maintenance and the only reason I got the job is because I had the work experience."

Though Gordon now has another job, he still works for Byrd. Gordon said Byrd allows them to work as many days as they want. He said earning a good paycheck has kept him on the right path.

Byrd said the answer isn't jail time, it's showing people a different way of life.

He said if teens are too busy working, they don't have time or energy to cause trouble.

"People shoot people because they have no money, they have no ambition, they have no motivation to do anything but crime," Byrd said.

And with all the recent shootings that have resulted in two deaths in the last week, Byrd wants others to join his efforts.

He's working on getting a couple of businesses together to teach teens a work skill, and allow them to earn money.

"I'm just going to do it grassroots, find these people that will help it doesn't cost any money to help and give somebody a job."

Byrd is also focusing on helping homeless kids find a place to live. He's hoping to have the program running before the end of the year and says he's always hiring, if anyone needs a job.


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