A couple in Sedalia are reaching out to others “who are broken through life’s struggles” with with a new program called Fresh Start.
Carl McCallum, who is working with Dee Tindell, said the outreach program is in the beginning stages. The couple is working with local agencies such as The Embassy, and Keepers Promise House and also with retired Sedalia psychologist Marge Harlan.
“We are networking with other programs, and we’re working with people who we help,” McCallum said Tuesday. “We’ll assess them and we’ll place them with other programs. Then when they finish that program we’ll take them in.”
McCallum added that his long-term plan is to purchase fixer-up houses, through contract of deed, to help house the people they are helping in the program.
“We’d like to work with not only the people who come out of prison and jail and who have addictions, we want to help families,” Tindell said.
“We’re talking about people who have been in this bad space, and don’t know how to get out,” McCallum added. “We’re here to tell them that we’ve been there and we can show you how to get out of it.”
McCallum said the program will work in phases. During the first stage, the person would stay in a home with others, then as they progress they will have an opportunity to rent a home and at the end of the program the option to purchase one of the homes.
He also plans to help those in the program gain responsibility and independence by having a car and a job. Tindell and McCallum will also encourage education in starting one’s own business.
“I’m hoping to reach out to the community and have the community come together and give me some type of assistance,” McCallum noted. “Whether it be just helping me out by selling me a house or property.”
Tindell said they are looking at two houses on Ohio Avenue.
McCallum’s reasons for wanting to start the program began two decades ago when his life was much different. He was a heroin addict in Chicago who was involved with not only with drugs but gangs and guns.
“Twenty years ago I was in a bad space,” he noted. “I kept going back to prison. I was on drugs and I couldn’t figure out why I was going there. I was in so much pain trying to figure out who I am, what do I do in life, what is my purpose?”
When McCallum went to prison the last time, he began to pray.
“I had never prayed before,” he said. “God placed on my heart, ‘start a Fresh Start program.’”
At the time he though it would be impossible, but he added that God began to change him “from the inside out.”
“I thought I was going to die a heroin addict,” he said.
McCallum, who now works at Pittsburgh Corning Corp., pulled his life together 10 years ago and came to Sedalia three years ago. He met Tindell by chance when she needed guidance in her life. Tindell spent time at The Embassy for women and has become independent and now has a home and a job.
They are investing their paychecks into the spiritual-based program and they plan to look at those they help with an “open mind.”
“We are not forcing religion down people’s throats, that’s not what we’re about,” McCallum said. “We only tell people from our side of the story, ‘we’ve been through it, so why not take a chance.’ If it works, great. Take that chance, but don’t stay in that same dark place and complain that you’re not getting ahead.”
“Everyone deserves a fresh start,” Tindell added. “We’ve been there, we didn’t start out like this. I’ve always wanted to help people before, but it wasn’t a success. Now God is opening so many doors.”
McCallum said once one enters any program it’s sometimes difficult for the individual because they have to leave everything behind and concentrate on helping themselves. If they stick with it, they can get their life back on track.
“God will restore all that back to you,” he added. “But you have to be faithful, and committed, and trust Him that it’s His process.”
“You have to take a chance and risk,” Tindell added.
“I’m just so grateful, I never imagined being here,” McCallum said. “I don’t even know who I am anymore. The old me died, this new me I love it …. I was in pain — it was either suicide or homicide for me, I didn’t have a choice.”
Tindell noted that when they met they were both trying to help others but weren’t getting anywhere.
“He’s seen me go from when I went into The Embassy all the way to now,” she added. “It’s pretty amazing, because now we understand each other and we make a pretty awesome team.”
They both plan to “start small” and work their way up in developing Fresh Start.
“Most programs they feed you and then they send you back out there,” McCallum said. “With Fresh Start, we teach you how to feed yourself so it will carry you, it will carry your grandkids, it carries their kids. It’s a generation thing where we build families.”
“It’s not going to happen overnight, it’s all a process,” Tindell added. “It takes time.”
Both McCallum and Tindell are available to speak to local groups about Fresh Start. Those who wish to help with the program or those who need help may call Fresh Start at 851-3839; or contact Dee Tindell at 619-0838 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Carl McCallum at 417-661-0581 or email@example.com; or visit freshstartsedalia.com.
Faith Bemiss can be reached at 530-0289 or on Twitter @flbemiss.