Former Gang Member Creates Charity to Help Ex-Cons Find Jobs

Founded in 2006, 2nd Call offers classes designed to help ex-cons rebuild their lives after being release

A former South Los Angeles gang member has dedicated his life to mentoring ex-cons, helping them find jobs and rebuild their lives, through his nonprofit organization.

After spending his entire young life in and out of jail, former Rolling 20s gang member Skip Townsend decided he had enough and decided to turn his life around, and to help others do the same.

In 2006, Townsend started 2nd Call, a nonprofit community program that's rebuilding lives. The organization offers classes on everything from domestic violence to job readiness.

"We're all doing things that weren't there for us when we were younger," Townsend said.

A year and a half ago, Townsend learned one of his childhood friends Charles Slay, known on the streets as Lil Man, had been released from prison after spending 27 years in jail on a murder charge.

Townsend decided to use his new foundation to help his childhood friend get his life back on a track.

"I felt compelled to help him with this journey because I know how hard it was for me," he said.

Slay is now working through 2nd Call, training to be an union electrician. He has his first real job working with other ex-cons building a new Kaiser Medical Center in the same community he used to roam with his gang.

Townsend said giving other people, like his old friend, a chance is what it's all about.

"I'm picking up measuring tape instead of guns," Slay said.

The two men have joined up with others in 2nd Call to form a new, peaceful gang called the Wolf Pack.

They are hoping to continue to rebuild South Los Angeles, one step at a time.

"The community actually heals when individuals heal," Townsend said. "It's like a ripple effect: the whole community becomes happier and healthier."

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