ROCKFORD (WREX) — For Rockford resident Brandon Gordon, he says teaching kids how to be their best is his calling.
"Growing up in this town as a young man, there were opportunities for me," says Gordon.
"So its very important for me to create those opportunities for children."
That calling led him to created 815 Alive, a new non-profit dedicated to giving kids a place to be kids while on their journey to becoming great adults.
The non-profits mission is to inspire the youth of Rockford to love, respect and cherish life by promoting self-love, a love for others, and a love for their community.
"I want to bring life to a city," says Gordon, "growing up we heard the term 'Deadrock,' you know Rockford's a dead place, I don't agree with that."
Gordon decided the best way to help kids during the pandemic was to provide a safe place for children doing remote learning. He's partnered with the Rockford Art Museum and more than a dozen children to their online classwork there.
Volunteers help the children with their work, and the kids are provided breakfast and lunch at no cost.
Gordon says he is fronting that cost, in addition to any donations that come in, but the most important thing he says he's providing is love.
"Our children are being left in some very hostile situations in their home life," says Gordon, "so what we want to do every single day is let them know someone cares."
Narya Benford, a seventh grader at Kennedy Middle School, is a part of the program and she says the support 815 Alive provides makes her want to do better in school.
"A lot of kids don't have the opportunity to learn, but here I like how supportive everyone is," says Benford. "My goal is to graduate from high school and then college."
"I want them to get out that someone truly cares about them," says Gordon, "that they are special, that they are worth it, and they can be everything that they want to be."
So every day, Gordon, volunteers and students gather in a prayer circle and read 15 positive affirmations allowed.
"Every single day they come here, I want 15 seeds to be planted," says Gordon.
"Our children want to be successful, they care about their education, we just need to encourage them and provide the tools for them."
815 Alive is currently accepting applications for new students to join the program. For more information, click here.