PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – As Philadelphia struggles for answers to end the city’s surging gun violence, officials are urging residents to look inward for solutions. One man is doing just that and his youth center is changing lives one at a time.
It’s a story similar to what too many in Philadelphia have experienced themselves.
“I was shot 11 times in my head, back, leg and arms,” Tyrique Glasgow said. “But I didn’t feel none of that. It didn’t bother me at the time because it was a patch. It was something that you knew was part of what you were into it. It was part of the game, you either get shot, you die or go to jail.”
That was back in 2005 when Glasgow was just 20 years old and selling drugs, as he had been doing since he was 15.
“I was just out trying to survive,” the now 35-year-old said. “I was trying to get a little money to go to the movies and have money in my pocket to grab what I wanted to grab without having to ask my mom. It was the easy way out. I’d seen it done.”
After the close call with death, coupled with a five-year prison sentence on a gun charge, Glasgow knew he had to change, so when he left prison he created the Young Chances Foundation.
“When I came home in 2012, I started it with a friend of mine who was shot and killed,” Glasgow said. “In honor of a lot of people around here who lost their life to gun violence, who I watched for, was friends with, just needed to see tomorrow.”
The nonprofit helps at-risk youth, offering everything from free after-school programs to hot meals before school.
The problem was, there wasn’t a central gathering place until now.
Through donations and volunteers’ sweat, an old row home near 27th and Tasker Streets is being transformed into the foundation’s neighborhood center.
The second floor will be dedicated to continuing education with free GED classes offered to those in the area.
With the uptick in violence plaguing Philadelphia, Glasgow hopes the center will be an outlet and deterrent for those who are currently involved in the life he used to live.
“My main focus is to change the images that our kids see out here,” Glasgow said. “It’s an opportunity to show what tomorrow is about. It’s about them going in there and getting a meal, being able to get some clean uniforms, their parents being able to get their GED, their résumé done.”
Glasgow says he plans to open the center on July 6.
“It’s an opportunity for them not to question their worth,” he said. “If they want to be somebody, this is a place where it can happen. A lot of time you look in the mirror, ‘Why me, why do I have to go through this?’ Why not? Why not be in this situation and pull yourself out? Why not be the one to show somebody that it’s possible?”