LANGLEY PARK, Md. - Community members say children in the Langley Park area of Prince George's County are bombarded every day with gang violence and poverty.
One man saw the obstacles and committed to making a difference in the lives of children, and now, nearly two decades later, the Chillum Youth Project is still working to Pay It Forward by helping guide those children down a path to success.
"This community is a very needy one," Joseph Emmerich said. "It's a rundown garden apartment area. I just pitched in and started doing things that were necessary."
The program helps with more than just academics. The children also go to museums, college tours and theaters - all in an effort to open their minds to a brighter future.
"Seeing the kids grow up and become really good citizens and get good jobs have been the payoff for me," Emmerich explained.
Joan Mendoza said he can only repay the man he calls grandpa by being successful. He said he owes his life to Emmerich and the program.
"I was probably about 3 or 4 and literally dying of pneumonia and he took me in and got me the proper health care and literally brought me back to life," Mendoza shared.
It's a life Mendoza is now dedicating to law enforcement in the very community he grew up in.
FOX 5 and Easterns Automotive Group teamed up to help the Chillum Youth Project to continue to Pay It Forward to the community. Joel Bassam from Easterns Automotive Group presented the Chillum Youth Project with a $2,000 check and $500 worth of Pizza Hut gift cards to help their efforts.
If you know someone who should be featured on Pay It Forward, you can nominate them here. In your email, be sure to include who they are and why they deserve to be recognized.