JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Jacksonville man has turned things around not only for himself but for his community.
He opened his second phone repair store, despite his past, and says he has a story anyone can learn from.
Jervonnti Lazenberry proudly stood next to his lifelong friends who are now business partners at the grand opening of the Phone Depot on Jacksonville’s Westside.
“It feels good,” Lazenberry said. “It feels like a dream. We have our shirts tucked in, we have belts on. Do you feel me? This is us. We came from the hood. And now we’re here.”
Renata Hannans says she’s been there from the beginning of Lazenberry’s journey, as it wasn’t an easy one.
“For young people from Flag Street, the MacMillan Street area, this is unheard of,” Hannans said. “And it’s giving others the permission to hope and dream and to do things like this.”
Lazenberry was in prison for three years for carrying a concealed weapon.
He says to this day, his past follows him.
“See the thing is, a lot of JSO will not let my past go,” Lazenberry said. “We just had a JSO officer out there with a picture of me, my prison picture.”
But he says it won’t overshadow what opening the store means to him and his community."
“For Jervonnti to be able to open not one, but two locations within one year of coming home from prison, this is major,” Hannans said.
With his neighborhood on his back and his son watching, Lazenberry said he can only go up from here.
“See the best thing that happened was for me to go to prison,” he said. “I was able to sit down and rewind my whole life and see what I was doing wrong. I use that to plan my release, so I won’t go back there. And I want to use my platform for a lot of underprivileged kids to know that they can be entrepreneurs. They can do whatever they want to do. They don’t have to be thugs, they don’t have to be gangsters, they don’t have to gangbang.”