In August of 1993 Tyrone Flowers received the, ‘Volunteer of the Year Award’ from the
16th Circuit Jackson County Family Court where I served as the Volunteer Coordinator.
I remembered sitting in my office back in 1991 putting together training materials when
the court receptionist called saying a young man was there to see me. I told her I had no
appointments and was busy. She said, “You are going to want to talk to this young man.”
I was shocked when I met Tyrone Flowers in the reception area for the first time.
“I want to make a difference in the lives of the court youth, because I know how they feel,”
Tyrone said. “I have been where they are. I want to volunteer to help them.”
We went to the lunch room where he told me the following story.
Tyrone; Age 7 Taken From Family to Live in Abusive System
I was born in 1970 to teenage parents who were not married and unable to raise a child.
I saw my dad only a few times before he was murdered when I was 10. I was put in
the custody of my grandmother where I was loved and surrounded by family. She was
raising 12 children of her own in a single parent home in the projects of Kansas City. At
the age of 7 my grandmother became ill and I was removed from her care. The Division
of Family Service took over my life. From that time until I was 17 I experienced mental,
physical and emotional abuse. I was told I was going to be just like my father, either
dead or in jail. They shuffled me between 3 foster homes, 8 group homes, hospital
mental wards, detention, McCune School for Boys and a youth center in Poplar Bluff,
MO. At the age of 8 while in a foster home I was locked in a dark basement all night
where I prayed and cried, “Let me out. I’ll be good.”
Diagnosed and Drugged
I was diagnosed with Behavior Disorder (BD), Learning Disorder (LD), and Attention
Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). I was forced to take Thorazine and Haldol
(Antipsychotic Drugs) to control the disorders they said I had. I was labeled incorrigible
and beyond hope.
Released From the System to Become a Basketball Star
In August 1987 when I was seventeen I was released from the center in Poplar Bluff to
go home. I was put on a bus to go back to Kansas City. I wasn’t sure where home was.
I stayed with an aunt who had a drug and alcohol problem. There was little food and
utilities were often turned off. But I was free. I was told from the time I was taken from
my grandmother and put in the system that I would never amount to anything. I was
determined to prove everyone wrong who believed I was a failure. I was put in regular
classes at Central High School and did well academically. I went to night school to
earn credits to graduate. Being athletic and 6’4” I was good at basketball. I became a
star overnight. I was up for a basketball scholarship, but wasn’t sure what a scholarship
Shot with a .357 Magnum
Two weeks before graduation in May of 1988 I was on a bus when a jealous basketball
rival from Central High challenged me to fight. We got off the bus and I threw up my
guard thinking we were going to fist fight. He pulled out a .357 Magnum and shot me
three times. I was hit in the left hand, the left leg and in the neck where my spinal cord
was nicked. I didn’t feel any pain so I told everyone I was alright. All I was worried
about was my black leather jacket. An ambulance was called and I spent 3 months in
intensive care surviving the gun shots. I almost died that night and was told I would be
in a wheelchair the rest of my life.
Through rehab and all the adjustment of trying to live in a wheelchair, my life goal was
to kill the guy who shot me. I had questions for God like, “Why Me?”
God told me that in order to be forgiven, I had to forgive. The only way I was going
to have a relationship with God was to forgive the guy that shot me. After I forgave,
I wanted to know why God saved me and why I had to go through the things I went
Tyrone was handsome young black man dressed in a suit and used an electric wheelchair.
He spoke as one who was well educated. His face radiated a joy that did not fit his tragic
New Life for Tyrone
Members of his father’s family asked him to come and stay with them. Being in a stable
family helped him to think about his future. Tyrone went on to tell me that he would
have killed the young man that shot him had he not given his life to Christ in 1989.
With the help of Pastor Steve Houpe from Harvest Church in Kansas City, Tyrone started
a new life with faith in Christ. He was able to forgive the young man that shot him.
“God got me, before I got him,” he said.
Volunteer of the Year for Mentoring Youth
Tyrone began working in the CHAMPS Mentoring Program developed for the youth in
Family Court Facilities. He started going to the Detention facility several times a week
where he made a major impact on many of the 80-90 youth that lived there. One of the
youth in Detention wrote a poem called, “My Mentor Has No Legs”. He told of how
Tyrone taught him the importance of an education and helped him believe in himself and
God. After winning the, “Volunteer of the Year Award” in August 1993 he went on to
do a practicum at McCune School for Boys where he was once a resident. Memories
of the abuse he had endured just a few years previously echoed in his mind. But as he
talked with the youth, he realized he could make a difference in their lives because he has
been where they were.
Tyrone Helps Multitudes of Youth
Tyrone married his beautiful wife Renee in 1993 and together began developing a not
for profit 501C-3 organization called, “Higher M-Pact”. He received his Bachelor’s
degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri in Columbia. In 1998 he received
his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Missouri, Columbia School of Law
where he was awarded the “CALI Excellence for the Future Award” for his excellence
achievement in “Children & The Law”. In 2007 President George W. Bush presented
him with the Celebration of African American History Award. In March of 2012 he
told his story on the 700 Club. Higher M-Pact won the Trumpet Award for Outstanding
community service. He was also recognized as the “2004 Distinguished Recent
Tyrone says the lack of caring and abuse of the workers in the system caused more
damage than the three bullets that paralyzed him. Today thousands of youth have hope
because Tyrone and Renee have made the sacrifice to do whatever it takes to give them
an opportunity through mentoring, training in life and social skills, spiritual development,
education, job training, guidance counseling and recreational services.
Tyrone tells of the miraculous things God has done in his life. He gives all the credit
to God. His purpose and joy in life is knowing he has helped a youth overcome the
obstacles of this society to go on to live above their circumstances.
Each of us has a divine purpose in life. God took Tyrone Flowers out of the court system
and raised him up to be a powerful man of God redeeming thousands of youth from a life
of crime and early graves.
Beliefs of Higher M-Pact
“At Higher M-Pact we sincerely believe that all youth are a blessing from God, are
valued members of our community and society, and are a key to our communities and
society’s future success. Our job is that of a servant. The youth we serve have God-given
talent and the potential to be successful and productive citizens. There are no better
youth in this country then the ones we serve. We believe that they are inherently valuable
individuals, thus they are treated with the utmost respect, regardless of their current
lifestyles, actions, value systems, outlooks on life or the choices they make. Our youth
are provided with quality service through Higher M-Pact programs and affiliates (staff,
volunteers, and members). For perhaps the first time in their life, they experience an
atmosphere of unconditional respect, acceptance and love.”
Patricia’s Experience at the Family Court
I worked at the Jackson County Family Court in Kansas City for 13 years. In 1987 I
developed “Pathmaker’s for Troubled Youth” to bring new opportunities to the youth
through volunteer programs. I worked as a Youth Worker while getting a Social Work
degree. I saw the emotional and mental abuse Tyrone spoke while employed as a Youth
Worker. I saw youth that had experienced ‘TRAUMA’ come back from the hospital so
drugged up they could hardly walk. Instead of counseling the youth for Post Traumatic
Stress, they were put on drugs and labeled, Attention Deficit, Borderline Personality,
Behavior Disordered. One twelve year old girl saw her uncle kill her grandmother. They
put her in the hospital. She came to the facility I worked in so drugged up she could not
talk. The court system was not rehabilitating the youth. They were hardening the hearts
of the youth through constant emotional abuse. The first time I visited detention I saw
a pair of tennis shoes outside the door of isolation. I could hear a 12 year old boy crying
to get out of that little cell. I heard and saw youth workers abuse the youth, but had little
power to change it. I remembered a 10 year old girl ask me one evening, “Do you think
I’m a slut. Ms. ___ told me I was a slut.”
“What is a slut,” I asked.
“I think it is someone who isn’t very clean,” she said.
“I see you took your shower tonight. You look clean to me,” I said. “Sweetheart, do
NOT accept everything people say about you. You are a smart, clean and sweet little
She was put in the court facility for not going to school.
I loved the youth in the court system and went to Central Missouri University to get
a Social Work degree to get in a higher position to help them. I went through a time
of fasting and prayer after graduation. In a vision in my mind I saw thousands of
volunteers coming to the court to help the youth. I had thought God would use me to
help the workers become more caring or to make new policies. But He said, “You can’t
put new wine in old wine skins.” You can’t change the people that already work at the
court, but you can bring in people that care who can present new opportunities, love and
encouragement to the youth.
I remembered the day I sat in the Administrator’s office a year before I graduated from
the university. The court administrator and three managers who had supervised me the
previous 4 years sat in a circle accusing me. I was accused of praying with a 13 year
old girl who had attempted suicide. The managers accused me of singing to the youth,
giving them Bibles and conducting church services. The administrator said, “According
to Supreme Court Laws the children have a right to freedom of religion.”
I said, “Everytime you say the word right you are taking a freedom away from a youth.
Even our inmates in prison have more rights than our kids have. An inmate can call a
Chaplain. Our youth have no one.”
I wasn’t fired but was told, “Volunteers can talk about God to the youth, but an
employee will be fired.”
I want back to the administrator office and asked if I could start a volunteer program.
My position as Youth Worker was changed to Volunteer Coordinator and Pathmaker’s
for Troubled Youth was developed. My dream of making a difference in the lives of
the youth was being met by caring, trained volunteers. Through God’s help I developed
programs in mentoring, careers, chaplaincy, crafts and more. Being a small, blond
woman driving in from the suburbs made it appear that I had no understanding of the
needs of the youth. Most of the youth and staff were black and felt I had no business
changing their system by bringing in volunteers and developing programs. I remember
walking down the halls of the court praying, “Lord, we really need a 6’4 black man to
help the youth. A wise leader that has a passion for the youth and loves them more than I
I could not imagine anyone loving them more than I did after 6 years of working as a
Youth Worker. The voices of the youth went through my mind, “I am a nothing and a
nobody and no one cares about me anyway.” “I haven’t felt joy since my dad tried to
flush my head down the toilet.” I remember the 12 year old crying and throwing a chair
over after finding out his mother had died of an overdose. The only feeling he knew
how to express was anger. Their pain along with their hopes and dreams motivated me
to start Pathmakers: The boy who wanted to be a news caster. The 16 year old girl that
wanted to be a counselor to help abused children like she was.
In 1991 Pathmakers won a National Award through the National Council of Juvenile
and Family Court Judges. But in October 1993, I was forced to resign by the new
administration that had taken over the court system. The previous administrator had
given me total support mentoring and teaching me how to develop and run programs.
When Pathmakers was destroyed, I rejoiced knowing that the work would continue
through Higher M-Pact. Tyrone Flowers is my hero. The 6’4” giant that has brought
hope and opportunities to multitudes of youth in the inner city.
(Coming soon: The Children Nobody Wanted.)
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