MILWAUKEE -- A new business is serving as a beacon of hope in Sherman Park after trying times.
One local man, who beat the odds, has made it his mission to help the neighborhood. He's building a business in the heart of the community where violence broke out nearly two months ago.
A small, freshly painted storefront with a big purpose now stands on Fond du Lac Avenue, near 36th Street. It is next to the BMO Harris Bank that was set on fire and just down the street from businesses that were looted.
"I always said that if I turn my life around and get a little money, I'm going to come back and help," Joey Gudgeon said. "I'm never going to forget where I came from. I'm going to give back to this community."
Gudgeon is keeping his word.
"This is just one of the many things I want to do for this area," he said.
Gudgeon is transforming a vacant storefront into a new George Webb. He owns three of the restaurant chains after starting at the bottom in the company as a dishwasher.
"George Webb gave me a chance when not many other places would," he said. "I'm a man who changed his life. I spent 10 years in the penitentiary off and on. I was addicted to drugs for a good 15 years of my life. I woke up one day and said this is not for me. I put my faith and trust in God."
Gudgeon wants to show young people in the Sherman Park neighborhood that it's never too late to change, and he plans to guide them through the process.
"We are going to pick people from this community to work here," he said. "We're not going to outsource jobs. We want this to be a place people can come enjoy in their own neighborhood and see people working hard and doing the right thing."
Gudgeon's fiancé Caprecious McClain she is happy to see the man he has become.
"Joey gives anybody a chance," McClain said. "They mess up and he gives them a second chance. I love that man. It's wonderful to see what he's made himself into. He just goes, goes, goes."
McClain said she hopes more people will follow Gudgeon's lead and invest in Sherman Park at this critical time.
"There are so many good people and things here," she said. "But honestly, there are also a lot of people who need help in this area."
And help means so much more when it comes from someone who knows just how important second chances really are.
"I look at this as an area that needs love and I'm making sure I'm here to give that love," Gudgeon said.
Gudgeon said he is hoping he can open the George Webb for business within a month or so.