“I was locked up for a gun charge,” said Albert Martin, who grew up near the shop.
When he was in the Mecklenburg County Jail, Martin met Dave Moore, who was teaching a course on auto body and detailing work.
“I like to go inside the jails and the prisons, because I have the guys' full attention,” Moore said.
Moore tells the inmates that he’s been in their shoes.
Moore owned body shops in Charlotte and Winston-Salem before he went to prison for selling drugs.
Now he has turned his old career into a new calling, and he’s going back to the cities where he had his roots.
Several years ago, Moore opened his first Southside Rides in Winston-Salem, hiring graduates from his jail and prison programs.
Many of his students and former employees have gone on to jobs in car dealerships and other body shops.
Now, he’s bringing that same model to Charlotte.
“I want to help, I want to be there where I can be that father figure,” Moore said.
“It's a step along the way for me,” said Sigmond Williams, a former inmate who is working at the body shop but hopes to go into peer counseling.
He said what they are doing on Freedom Drive could give help to many others.
“Maybe it's a blueprint. There are a bunch of kids out there who need help, you know?” Williams said.
Moore is still waiting for some permits and could always use more funding to get his shop on Freedom Drive up and fully running. Now, they mostly detail vehicles.
“Yeah it'll work,” Moore said. “We're on Hope Street in Winston and on Freedom here in Charlotte. That means something.”
We would like to thank WSOCTV.com for reprint permission.