Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.
I am from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community located in Arizona.
I was born in Tucson, AZ where after just being born, my struggle in life began. When I was born 2 months early, my Grandmother Dorothy told me I was so small that I could fit into the palm of a hand and the doctor said they didn’t know if I was going to make it. I spent the next six months living in a plastic bubble.
After I survived that first struggle, the next struggle came when my family moved off the reservation and moved into the city. Some of the friends I met there were not the best influences, which lead to getting into a life of crime and drugs at a very young age. I spent most of my time away from home because I hated to see the hurt in my own family so it was best for me to just stay away all day. As I grew up, I took that life back to the reservation and my negative influence on the community eventually lead to my extradition from the reservation.
It was then that I came across the Fatherhood program that got me to see and listen to myself. It helped me to actually understand the destruction I caused in our community. The Fatherhood program gave me tools of life that helped me build myself and become the individual that I am today. I overcame all the obstacles and I got a job within the tribal complex and actually kept it, and support my eight children. A nice home filled with happiness.
I have advanced from general laborer for the public works department to be a Coordinator in the Human Resources Department. So now I help individuals gain employment so they too can provide for their families in a positive way.
So to those who are confused about what life is supposed to be, it will be whatever you make it out to be. If you think you can change, you will. Just remember your actions don’t go unnoticed because the one person who notices them is you. You are someone and you’re that person with the ability to change lives even if it is just one.
Eric C. Schurz Sr. is a father who had his life turned around by a fatherhood program promoted within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Arizona.