After decades of running the streets and making bad decisions – Louisville, KY resident Antonio Boykin finally decided that he’d had enough. He’d heard the cliché, “There’s only two possible outcomes for gangsters – prison or the graveyard,” since he was a small child but never took the phrase seriously until around 2010.
Nearly a decade ago Boykin, originally from Indianapolis, experienced a near death situation that forced him to reevaluate his interpretation of that famous cliché. After doing some serious soul-searching, he launched the “Change U Foundation” back in 2010, based on his philosophy that, “To Change a Life – You Gotta Change You.”
“In my old life I was part of the problem, I was tearing down the city – doing my part to destroy the city. I had some near death experiences and I got on my knees and gave it to God and God put something on me and it just grows and grows everyday. God’s my leader. I got out of the driver’s seat and let him drive – I just follow now.” – Antonio Boykin
Change U originally began as a youth outreach program, in which Boykin used his own life experiences as a testimony, but has since grown into a multifaceted community outreach program which includes feeding the homeless, assisting troubled women and servicing the elderly.
The program is funded solely by donations, is employed by volunteers and currently mentors about 50 kids each week. After realizing Louisville’s rapidly growing homeless population, Change U incorporated a program that feeds the homeless in 2013.
Boykin uses GoFundMe and Paypal accounts to receive independent donations from the community, which allows his program to roughly feed 200 homeless people each week. In addition, the foundation also provides the homeless with clothing and shoes.
Every Saturday night Boykin and his wife,Tanya Boykin, prepare hundreds of meals at their home, in preparation for the hundreds of homeless they will feed the following day. They typically prepare meals for the homeless to eat on the spot and sack lunches that they can take with them.
Many of the homeless have become just as dependent on the Boykin’s for moral support as they are for nutritional support. The couple says that their kinds words, understanding and encouragement are what help many homeless people make it through the day.
“Everybody has their own story. People try to put the homeless in one category but it doesn’t work like that. You can have a guy who probably had a good job, wife, family, everything and got divorced. When he got divorced he may have given up. It’s different things.” – Antonio Boykin
Every Sunday the Change U Foundation feeds the homeless at the St. John’s Center for Homeless Men from 8am-9am. On Wednesdays, the foundation partners with an organization called The Forgotten Louisville and feeds hundreds of homeless in the parking lot if the University of Louisville Rowing Club.
Change U also sponsors positive youth events. Every Saturday throughout the summer, the group plans to hold a youth cookout from 12pm-2pm, in a different city park throughout the city and host events like talent showcases and concerts.
The events will be free to public and include free food and refreshments. The foundation has also recently incorporated the “Thug Love” program beneath their umbrella.
“We incorporated the Thug Love” program, where I’m reaching out straight to the thugs and just basically trying to show them how to embrace love – loving themselves so they can love everybody else. Just because you are mad at somebody doesn’t mean you have to kill them.” Antionio Boykin
Tanya Boykin operates as the women’s liaison and donation coordinator for Change U. She specializes in helping women who are going through domestic abuse, drug recovery and homelessness.
The Change U Foundation can be reached for information or donations at 502-822-8677, or by visiting the GoFundMe account at gofundme.com/changeu2017 and paypal.me/changeu2017. Follow ChangeU Foundation on Facebook
THE ANTONIO BOYKIN INTERVIEW ON “URBAN VOICES RADIO” BEGINS AT 17:40