WILLIAM FREEMAN Executive Director of People of Purpose
Born in 1968 in Pahokee, Florida, William Freeman who grew up in Riviera Beach, was one of seven children who were brought up by both a loving mother and grandmother. As these two women believed in helping and feeding anyone in need, they taught William and his siblings about the importance of having a spiritual life, not being selfish and caring about others.
Some Early Life Experiences
When William was in 3rd grade, he noticed that his teacher had only handed out 5 packs of crayons, which left 17 children without crayons. Believing that what she had done was wrong; William stole 17 packs of crayons and gave them to the children who had not received them. And though he realized that this was too wrong, it was his way of doing something for others.
It was William’s uncle Gary, following his uncle’s military service and retirement from his career in the Post Office, who served as a role model for William. He, like William’s mother and grandmother taught William about the service…by putting God first, followed by his family and the community. His uncle Gary also believed that it was important not to show favoritism of any kind towards others and always to give people an opportunity, no matter how many times they failed.
As a youth William learned how to trim trees and sell his services to others without taking no for answer. Even without a business background, he became known as a great salesperson. It was at the age of 19 that he entered the Navy. Upon reflection William realized this was not the best decision for him and as it was not a successful experience it led him to believe that he had been a failure in his life. This further led him to make decisions which led him in and out of jail and prison.
Fortunately, at the age of 49, he made up his mind that this time in prison would be the last time he would be behind bars and have a number for his name.
Years in Prison
While in prison William acquired over 30 certifications, including areas such as thinking for change, commercial driver’s license, parenting and using a forklift. He gained advance leadership skills through Toastmasters and a Bronze Communication award which helped him learn how to speak in public before an audience and how to become a strong, passionate leader.
Also while in prison William realized that “returning citizens” or the men and women who were reentering society following their incarcerations were having very rough roads to travel in all areas of their lives. From housing to employment to rebuilding familial, social, and personal relationships and in many more areas there were limited resources and support.
Recognizing this he spent time trying to understand why doors are closed to them, what could be done to discourage recidivism and how he could advocate to improve their situations. This led him to become a Peer Specialist so that he could help others as well as himself move back into the world as fully functioning self-sufficient citizens. As his mentors in prison helped him understand the importance of all people having a purpose in life, it was during this time that he was inspired to develop his thoughts, ideas and initial plans for Man of Purpose (dba People of Purpose).
In 2019 as William left prison, he knew he was on the road to turning his life around and would do all he could to help others do the same. As he had learned the skills that would serve as the framework or foundation for People of Purpose, he was ready to fully involve those who believed in his vision and engage them so that men and women who would seek or be referred to People of Purpose would find both purpose and the support needed from both peers and people who cared about them so that they too would become productive citizens.
Since that time, William has developed a board, incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit and he, working with his board, has initiated efforts to begin to carry out his vision.