Faces of Success: Steve Norris
Steve Norris has been a full-time volunteer at 4:13 Strong for three years and was instrumental in starting the nonprofit. 4:13 Strong implements a program that works to break the cycle of poverty, crime and dependence by providing young men with educational, vocational and life skills training. Men live in dormitory-style housing in order to create a supportive environment for them to live and learn. Most of the men they serve are age 18-24 and have recently been incarcerated. Aside from running the fundraising and donor management for 4:13, Steve also works first hand with the men going through the program. He teaches the financial development class and the spiritual development class that the students are required to participate in throughout their time in the program.
“We go through an intro to personal finance class and by the end of the class each guy comes up with their own personal budget. We get the guys set up with a checking account and savings account. For these guys, it is a big deal because most banks aren’t willing to give them a chance. These guys have trouble managing their money and it is important for us to teach them how to save. We have some men who have been through this program who are not only saving but are now investing. As their teacher, when you see a guy get it and do it, it’s an awesome feeling.”
Steve has also seen amazing growth in his spiritual classes too.
“We have had several men get baptized. These students realize that they need more help than what they can muster on their own. The guys who are active in the Bible study usually are the ones with the most discipline toward their finances too.”
Steve worked in the business world for many years before he retired and decided to volunteer at 4:13 Strong.
“I tell my friends who are still working for paychecks that the highs are higher than any high you can imagine in the business world. Everything is so personal. We see men come into this program broken, struggling and looking for direction. When you can give them the direction that they need and they take off with it and succeed, there’s nothing better. The leadership here makes the guys feel like they have someone on their side for the first time.”
The men must withstand a “mental toughness” week to be selected for the program. From there, the leaders teach the men about finance, faith and help them obtain jobs. Many of these men have criminal backgrounds and struggle to hold down a steady job. The staff at 4:13 help with job placement and teach the men how to be dependable and skillful employees. Another goal for most of the men in the program is to attain their driver’s license and save up enough money to buy a car. The men live on the 4:13 Strong campus and are provided with dormitory-style living, rides to work and meals.
“This program gives guys hope of getting off the streets. It’s amazing to see some of the changes that these guys are making in their lives. There’s not many programs out there like this one.”
As a funded agency partner of United Way, 4:13 Strong is able to provide construction certifications and career paths for at-risk young men. When you give to United Way, you are giving the men of 4:13 Strong a chance at success.