REVEREND CHARLES FLOWERS
In 1995, Rev. Charles Flowers heeded a spiritual call to serve, once again. A former Air Force Training Instructor, he and his wife, Janice, decided to use their military training to start a boot camp for troubled youth. They wanted to make sure the camp was accessible to those who needed its discipline, free, and standing on a foundation of spirituality. So in 1995, Love Demonstrated Ministries, Inc. Christian Boot Camp (CBC) for youth was established.
The CBC is open to youth ages 13 through 19, and operates during the summer season. The participants are either referred to the boot camp by their parents, or they volunteer to take part in the program. Rev. Flowers comes in with spit polished black combat boots, camouflage pants, black t-shirt, and a wide brimmed hat. He stands perfectly straight and looks directly into the eyes of the young people. However, when Commandant Flowers enters the room, all of the youth at the CBC lift their head in respect, not in fear, of him.
Initially, Rev. Flowers hoped to instill the basics of unity and morality back into the youth. The campers are put through paces of physical activities, community service projects, classroom instruction, and spiritual training for 32 days. During each day, Rev. Flowers and his small band of volunteers work hard to let each youth know that he or she is valued. As a result of the camp, even the most troubled of the youth discover peace and hope.
In 1999, Rev. Flowers took on a special population – young offenders. The CBC program became part of a larger effort, Value Based Violence Prevention Initiative (VBI), a new program funded by San Antonio Fight Back (SAFB) of the United Way. SAFB is a comprehensive substance abuse, crime and violence program of the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County. VBI is designed to help young probationers between the ages of 19 and 29 stay out of jail and maintain a healthy lifestyle. It is comprised of five components, one of which is the boot camp.
The boot campers conducted 12 community service projects in the first six months of the camp. With funding from SAFB, Rev. Flowers expanded the camp and now conducts it year-round. From October 1999 to December 2000, 116 individuals have been referred to the VBI program, and of that number, only 15% have re-entered through juvenile justice system as opposed to the national average of 85 percent.