Patrick Johnson is a man on a mission. The Sergeant Major runs a program called "About Face," named after his goal for difficult kids to make a complete 180-degree change in their lives.
The program has evolved to mentally and physically challenging boot camps, ranging from a half-day to four months. Johnson says the work is well worth it.
Patrick tells us "There's real joy in being able to serve and help other people. So when I see young people that are parents now that used to be that troubled child with no direction whatsoever that are doing good that are holding down a job now, that gives me a good feeling. No amount of money could ever replace that.
"About Face" participant Kavontra Webster tells us "He comes to visit the schools, but it's unknown. He doesn't give you a time when he visits, so you always have to be on your best behavior."
Traveion Webster says "Sometimes, he comes to the school and I get scared, but I think he's a really nice person. He supports me in my basketball games and anything else that I'm in."
In addition to school visits, Johnson also takes the kids to perform community service throughout East Texas, doing everything from random cleanups to feeding the homeless.
Johnson says "A lot of students complain about what they don't have and what they want. When they see, it's one thing for me to tell them but seeing is believing. When you do that stuff, it makes something in your heart just feel good you know? Doing something for the community that's good."
Johnson fights for these kids, because he too was saved once.
"You're looking at somebody who used to be on drugs, you're looking at somebody who used to be an alcoholic but you're also looking at someone who loves the Lord with all his heart.We do a devotional, I talk about God. I'm not going to back away from who is responsible for me being here," Johnson says.
And that is what keeps Johnson and his program growing and thriving in East Texas.
Johnson put it this way. "When you get a student to change their attitude and their behavior and to start making different choices, you're not only helping this particular generation right now, but what you're doing is you're planting a sowing seed."
A physical is required to start the program, and Johnson has to meet with a parent and the child.
Traveion Webster is getting ready for another stellar basketball season.
His brother Kavontra is now part of the Explorers Program with Longview Police.
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