ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) -An Albany man wants to see gun violence end in Albany after he almost died from being shot.
Eric Gardner, a motivational speaker and community activist, is using his past to bring resolution to the violence in this community.
He hopes through new projects, it will raise awareness and bring hope back to Albany.
“It came out here and hit me in my face, but boy...that was a rude awakening. Made me a better man,” said Gardner.
Over a decade later, Eric Gardner looks at his scars from gunshots. Wounds that almost ended his life.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I’m a saint. We all have done our wrongs. And I just prayed harder and still trying to change my life still to this day,” said Gardner.
Growing up, Gardner lived the street life. A life that got him shot multiple times, and at one point, left him paralyzed.
“I’ve been through a lot in this life and I give all praises to the Most High that I’ve been able to turn around and make the right changes to be a better man,” said Gardner.
For 24 years, he has been using his past to speak on gun violence and crime.
But when the recent shootings happened, he got with his friends to start a Facebook forum to reach the Albany community.
“Started a group and before I knew it, the group had taken off and gone viral. The group is doing numbers,” said Gardner.
In just seven days, NoshotsFired229 has gained close to 2,000 members.
Gardner also started a podcast named after that page.
His childhood friends said these outlets are needed to give people a platform.
“We need to know what people feel. People are hurting. It’s a lot of hurt out there,” said Edward Ford-Ball, social activist.
Gardner said he once felt that exact hurt when his brother, Jimmie Gardner, was wrongfully convicted 27 years.
He was released two years ago, Eric said.
Now he hopes these platforms will bring resolution and peace in a city whose streets almost cost him his life.
“Because it’s needed. There’s no such thing as later and it’s getting worse now. So why not attack the situation now,” Gardner added.
Barbershop providing mentorship and jobs
Now Gardner's childhood friend wants to give back to the community by offering jobs at his barbershop.
Antonio Gordon, owner of "Tony Black Salon and Boutique," hopes this will help keep kids out of trouble.
Gordon said Gardner has always been there for him, and now, they want to work together to provide mentorship for the youth.
“Young man or lady trying to cut hair or do hair, come see me. I got a job for you. That will beat you better than being in the streets. You know what I’m saying? Come and get some money instead of being in the streets trying to hurt other people,” said Gordon.
If you are interested, visit his shop at 728 Pine Avenue or call (229) 903-8006.