Witnessing young teens behind bars inspires man to dream big

20 Apr

By: Cori Jo Powell

As a Criminal investigator for the Texas Department of Public Safety Noble Crawford, saw boys and girls standing behind bars in the Dallas County jails.

 “The key thing is the man was missing from these kids’ lives.” Crawford said.

Crawford knew in his heart that something must be done to help these children and keep them out of the jail system. He knew he wanted to help, but was not sure how. Until one day when he attended a small group seminar at his local church.

“There was a guy there talking about dreaming and dreaming big and writing it down.” Crawford said. “And so one of the assignments was to write down something so big that you think it’s impossible to do. Write it down in the present tense as if it is already occurring. Immediately I started writing about a school for boys. I did not have to think about it. I just started writing and I closed the book, class was over.” said Crawford

Fort Worth Police Officer, Gary Randle met Crawford at a church in 1989. The two men discovered they both felt the same way about children in the jail system. Crawford shared his writing about a school for boys with Randle.

 “You put words to what I was feeling on the inside.” Randle’s response.

The result of the two men brainstorming together was the organization Helping Other People Excel (HOPE Farm). In 1990 H.O.P.E. Farm became incorporated and a board was put in place, said Crawford.

Crawford said first they started visiting with boys after school at Morning Side Elementary.

In 1996 HOPE Farm wrote its first grant proposal to the Sid Richardson Foundation receiving a $100,000 grant to purchase two buildings facing Ramsey Avenue in Southeast Fort Worth.

Fourteen years ago, Annie Jewel Miller (Ms. Jewel) became the HOPE Farm Office Manager. Living in Philadelphia, Miller wanted to return home to Fort Worth. Miller said her mother suggested she apply for a position at an organization for children being built across the street from where she lived.

When Miller was visiting her mother she said she saw Mr. Randle across the street and went to talk to him. A year later Miller moved back home to Fort Worth and became the office manager of Helping Other People Excel Farm.

Miller said the tuition for a single mother to send her child to HOPE Farm is $10 a semester or $20 a year. All boys must live in a single parent household, have an absent father, undergo an interview with the directors and be at least five years old. Miller said the program also has a waiting list of mother’s trying to get their sons into the program because the cost of childcare is so little.

 In 2003 another building was built behind the original two houses and HOPE Farm is now adding a gym. HOPE Farm also has a branch in Como. Crawford said the organization wants to have multiple locations in order to help all the children throughout Fort Worth, said Crawford.

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