Friends choose honest work over hustling, violence

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INDIANAPOLIS – Two Indianapolis men are trying to set a good example for at-risk youth and better their own lives by building their own business.

Twenty-nine-year-olds Durrell Cullens and Chris Smith founded First Call Lawn & Haul about a year ago. The two were frustrated with the job market and the life of crime their peers had chosen.

“I never would’ve thought some of the people I grew up with wouldn’t be here or… be in jail,” said Cullens.

In 2012, Cullens’ father William Cullens was shot during a shooting spree that stretched along 38th Street from west to east. The crime wave left three people wounded, one man dead, and a house gutted by flames.

If they weren’t engaging in violence, the people they knew were hustling. Without many job opportunities, they said, it is incredibly easy to get sucked into that lifestyle.

“Growing up, people with the nice cars and nice clothes, that’s how they get their money and you know that,” said Smith. “I grew up in the middle of all of that. And you see where that leads to. So I wanted to have my ending somewhere else.”

So the friends went to work and created their business. They just launched the company’s website on Tuesday.

Cullens and Smith admit they have their good days and bad days, but it’s all worth it. And the sweet taste of success isn’t just for them to savor. The pair wants to set an example to all young people; if they can do it, so can others.

“We trying to stop the cycle with us and hopefully we can motivate, encourage, and show other kids there’s other possibilities,” said Smith.

“I had to do something. I can’t wait on anyone or anything to give me anything. It’s gotta be, you know, up to me,” added Cullens. “I’m down for the challenge and the long road it’s gonna be. We keep a positive mindset and what you think is what you shall be.”

When they are not working, the two young men are attending classes. Cullens will graduate from Indiana Tech this weekend with an associate degree in business administration. Smith went to Harrison College and still takes classes at Ivy Tech. Both also volunteer their time to a nonprofit anti-violence group called Circle Up.

For additional information on First Call Lawn & Haul, click here.

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