PowerCorp volunteer inspiring others after changing his life

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Philadelphia volunteer with inspiring story. Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News at 6 p.m. on July 11, 2017. (WPVI)

On Tuesday morning, down near the Delaware River at Pennypack Park, you'd find about a dozen PowerCorp volunteers cleaning up and watering over 50 trees.

But among the hardworking crew, you'd also find an incredible young man with quite the inspiring story - Kalef Jones.

"I've been to jail before, gun violence. I've been shot a few times. I did some things that I don't really like speaking about," Jones told Action News.

Jones, 25, grew up at 23rd and Diamond streets in North Philadelphia.

His rough childhood includes jail time for selling drugs, and a devastating loss.

"My mother died a few years back. Actually, it'll be three years on Friday," Jones said.

But then Jones got involved in PowerCorp, an AmeriCorp program that partners with EducationWorks and the City of Philadelphia for environmental stewardship initiatives.

In three short years, Jones rose through the ranks, graduating from general member to associate crew leader.

"He's incredible. And I wouldn't necessarily call him a diamond in the rough. We have four alumni crew leaders," Lisa Varon of PowerCorp said.

Jamir McGirt is also making a mark. He's watched Jones, his mentor, closely over the last few months.

"Mr. Kalef, he inspires me. He showed me that I don't have to be in the streets," McGirt said.

Just as the water brings life to these young trees, Jones says PowerCorp has fueled his transformative growth.

"Powercorp came and saved my life. But really saved me from myself," Jones said.

Jones says, although he loves working for the PowerCorp, his career plans don't end here. Eventually, he'd like to start his own nonprofit organization reaching out to young adults with a similar background.
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