INDIANAPOLIS, Ind- This Christmas, a man who once spent more than a decade behind bars is using his story to inspire others, and provide a Christmas to remember for kids on the near northwest side of Indianapolis.
"I'm a product of the system," Shane Shepherd said, as he began telling his story, which led him to starting the organization on the city's Near Northwest side. It's a story that begins with a young child caught up in a bad environment, with lots of freedom in his hands.
"When you're too free in a drug infested violent environment at the age of 10, 11 years old... as malleable as I was, I started soaking up the wrong stuff," Shepherd said. "So I proceeded down that path and excelled because I had no supervision.”
That path led Shepherd from group homes to state prison and then federal prison.
"Out of the last, I would say 20 years, I was incarcerated for 15 of those,” Shepherd said.
Now, he's heading down a different path. Leading others in a new direction with an organization he created called B4UFall.
"It’s an organization that's more preventative than reactive," Shepherd said. "We try to prevent people from maybe falling into some of the pitfall that society has to offer."
B4UFall will offer resources such as mentoring, counseling and teaching life skills.
After hearing his story, volunteers like Tira Smith jumped on board with the Shepherd's mission, hoping his story can make a difference.
“Everybody is tired of the ghetto, as Shane puts it, just being a dessert. There’s nothing here, there's no life," Smith said. "So it’s time to bring life back.”
So on Christmas day, B4UFall invited the community into its new home, filled with games, and a warm meal… to provide a safe place for those who need it
"I can't change anybody, I can't fix anything, I can't save anything. But if I can give you hope, then I think I've done my job,” Shepherd said.
By becoming the role model Shepherd didn’t have growing up, he aims to help others to act before it’s too late.
“That’s what we want to do at B4UFall," Shepherd said. "We want to be a beacon of light, a beacon of hope."
Christmas was the soft opening of B4UFall’s location at 1234 West 26th Street in Indianapolis.
They will be having an open house on December 26, 27 and 28.