After serving 17 years in prison, Flint resident Hubert Roberts made it his mission to give back to the community. (Jordan Johnson | News Movement)

Flint, MI — Living nearly two decades behind bars, community advocate Hubert Roberts had a personal awakening on the new life he wanted to live: better the lives of others around him.

“I had spent 17 years in prison,” Roberts said. “After being in that environment, dealing with a lot of the young men that were broken and working with a lot of youth while I was incarcerated, I kind of found my niche.”

Prior to his prison stint, growing up in the city of Flint, his mother would get him involved in various community service events as a child. Roberts, now 62, credits that for the role he would play in the life of others and the positive impression he could leave.

Finding employment after his release proved to be difficult for Roberts, who had studied vending machine repair. He began volunteering and later participated in government programs to become a mentor in the school system, which he had done for 15 years. His work also consisted of speaking engagements including local colleges.

While in prison, he developed a brain tumor and was given three and a half years to live. He determined to spend his days being of service to others in the city of Flint.  

“I’m going on 15 years now,” he said proudly. “That experience…God has blessed my life and so I wanted to do all I could before I died to make sure I touched lives and gave back to the community.”

For the past 13 years, he has worked with the Men’s Community Action Resource – Flint (MCAR-Flint), a leadership initiative that provides positive mentoring and bonding to young boys through fishing with a “Day at the Lake” activity. Roberts also participates in Valuing Our Students where they greet students the first Monday of every month to encourage them for the school year at six schools throughout the city. 

He’s also a mentor director the non-profit organization Involved Dad, created by fellow community advocate Shon Hart, whose mission is to impact the lives of fathers.

“We give them tools and avenues to make the best decisions but first loving themselves. That’s the big part that we do and we actualize that. We have a buddy system where you can buddy up with a young man,” Roberts said. “Right now, I’m buddied up with a young brother that’s going through a divorce so we try to share those life lessons that many of us have gone through and we call to check on each other. We use those kinds of avenues to really make a difference and impact.”

Roberts expressed that it is the responsibility of his generation to serve as mentors for the next generation and not to give up on the youth.

“What I’d like people to understand is we created these children. So, how dare we turn our backs on them.”