FRESNO COUNTY, California – Richard Burrell has been a gang member, he’s been homeless and his family lived in the motels on Parkway Drive.
Now, he’s put that lifestyle behind him and is working to help the children growing up on motel row.
A pool party, what kid wouldn’t enjoy that? But for these children, a backyard gathering is not something they get to experience.
“Out where they live at Parkway Drive, it is a steady concert, symphony of sirens and yelling and whatever else goes on out there,” says Richard Burrell, with Live Again Fresno.
These are the children of Parkway Drive, they are living in the motels because their families are homeless, sharing their neighborhood with drug dealers and sex traffickers.
“Not one child that I know of wants to live there at all,” Burrell says.
Seven years ago, he and his family made it their mission to serve these kids.
“We were able to start doing simple things like an afterschool lunch program for kids that was served out of the trunk of our family car,” he explains.
His program, Live Again Fresno, has grown and gathered support. He works with Fresno Unified School District. The department of behavioral health and the housing authority all, trying to break the generational cycle that keeps families stuck here.
“By bringing in the institutional help is really good because they are specialized in this type of care,” Burrell says.
During the summer, Burrell operates a mobile food service. His route covers four motels that has the most kids, serving breakfast and lunch.
“In the morning my children are waiting for him to come. They appreciate the meals, we appreciate the meals,” says Dalaiah, a motel resident.
Burrell says what they are doing is building relationships, showing up every day for these kids, showing them somebody cares.