Minister Robert Godfrey, 41, of Spindale knows what it is like to get in trouble as a young teen and be incarcerated. He has lived that. He understands the challenges of youth in Rutherford County when they get out of school in the afternoons with "nothing to do," he said recently. He wants to help the youth to make better choices than he did.
"I see the biggest challenges and needs for our youth today is they need something to do," Godfrey said. He believes the reason there have been so many drug overdoses is "there is nothing for them to do after school. There is too much free time," he said.
Godfrey said there are too many things for them "to grab onto."
"I don't want them to be a product of their environment," Godfrey said.
In 2020 Godfrey began to launch his "Beat the Streets" youth mentoring program. But when COVID-19 hit and there were so many restrictions the program had to be slowed down.
"Now we've picked it back up this year," Godfrey said at the annual Grahamtown Reunion in Forest City.
"Now people are reaching out to us," he said.
Through Beat the Streets, Godfrey said he has already reached about 30 to 35 youth and knows that number will increase as more programs and events are planned for Rutherford County's teens.
Mentoring programs are held ever other week on Wednesday or Thursdays at the Hope in the City Community Church at 200 Weathers Street in Spindale. During the hours of 10 a.m and 3 p.m. Godfrey meets with parents and youth to help get them on a good, positive path. Godfrey offers his telephone number for those interested and learning of the exact schedule. 828-744-1286.
Godfrey said his greatest male role model when he was growing up was his grandfather but when he passed away when Godfrey was a fifth grader, he took the death hard.
"It took a part of me," he said.
After the death, Godfrey said he began to take a different route and ended up on the streets. He was carrying guns, smoking weed and doing other drugs that were available on the streets.
He spent three years In the North Carolina Department of Correction and upon his release, he still struggled and began to return to his old way of life.
In 2009 Godfrey moved to Atlanta to live with his father who was a minister.
"I had not met him but twice before that," Godfrey said.
His dad encouraged him to "start over" and Godfrey finally took his advice and began to take another road.
"My life began to shift," he said.
He came back to his home county and began to work. Two years later began the Beat The Streets mentoring program.
"We also help young adults find jobs and build credit. We help with getting their GED as well," Godfrey said.
"We also have classes that deal with anger, and violence. I try to teach them that no matter what has happened to them, they can come back from it. When I was 17 I got shot for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. So I also have classes teaching about making good decisions," he continued.
"Hope In The City Community Church Is also a place for people to come and get help for things like food, clothing, counseling, and free drug rehab programs," Godfrey continued.
Godfrey and his wife Karen, also in the ministry with him, have seven children.
"We are the Godfrey Crew," he said.
When not working with the mentoring program, with other leaders such as Jennifer Francis, he is employed by the American Red Cross.
"I just want to help."
To reach Godfrey call 828-744-1286.