(10/30/13) - It's difficult for any of us to hear about the violence affecting parts of Flint and Saginaw.
Shootings happen every week, many times they are deadly.
What can we do stop the violence in some of these neighborhoods? The question is difficult to answer, but a Midland couple wants to give it a try.
More than a year ago, Jim and Wendy Shafley were living comfortably in a nice Midland home, not far from Dow Diamond. One day changed their lives forever, and they have since helped change part of their new city.
"It's amazing to see what has happened in this neighborhood in the past year," Jim said.
"This" neighborhood is on Saginaw's east side,17th and Annesley. A lot of bad things have happened around here in the past few years.
A memorial stands where a man was shot to death, but it wasn't that murder that changed Jim's life. It was the shooting death of 12-year-old Tamaris Steward. Tamaris was shot and killed while he slept in his grandfather's home on Whittier in June of last year. Shafley worked with a restoration company that was called to the bullet-ridden home.
"When I got there, it just broke my heart," he said.
He remembers going home to Midland that night to talk to his wife Wendy, who works for Dow Chemical.
"I went home told my wife, I can't be here anymore, I need to be in Saginaw," he said.
So he quit his $75,000 a year restoration job and began to look at bigger things, like restoring a neighborhood.
Michael Clark remembers seeing Shafley and his wife looking at a home on Annesley last year.
"I thought he was kind of crazy, when he first come in," he said.
Shafley bought it for $500 and began restoring the house he and his wife would eventually move to.
"Borrowed from the 401K, we did things, but we need to be here, God is faithful, he meets us every step of the way and when we sell our house in Midland, we won't have any debt," Jim said.
Jim and Wendy have founded Kingdom Builders, sort of a construction ministry. He enlists the help of eastside Saginaw residents who have been in trouble with the law.
"Teaching them all the trades, we dry wall, wiring, plumbing heating, we do all the trades, the only thing I can't do is stretch carpeting," Jim said.
"He's given a lot of the young guys in this community an opportunity, a better way of life," said Paul Blunt, who served nearly six years in prison for attempted murder.
Blunt has been out for a year, he's working, and when he sees what Shafley has given up to help his former street, it keeps Blunt on his new course.
"People do care, because he didn't have to come here, but I guess God put it in his heart to come here and restore the life back in this community," he said.
Clark says Shafley didn't just fix up his own home.
"He came and planted some flowers, and actually fixed some things, fixed my porch for me, fixed a young lady's roof," he said.
He has also cleared six lots on Annesley, a place where a park might be built.
"I'm taking it back, for God," he said.
The Shafley's have plans to buy another east side Saginaw home in the near future.
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