Owner of That's My Dog Runs Non-Profit Youth Organization

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By Ashley Thompson

If you live in Montgomery, you may be familiar with a hot dog stand downtown called "That's My Dog." But what you may not know is that the owner of that hot dog stand also runs a non-profit youth organization aimed at getting kids off the street.

Imagine having a place for your kids to go that will teach them performance arts and life skills...for free. Well a local organization does just that. It's called That's My Child. Right now there are 78 kids in it and that number is growing.

For more than two years, Charles Lee has cooked up delicious hot dogs at his stand, 'That's My Dog' in downtown Montgomery. But when he's not firing up the grill, he's being a mentor to Montgomery's youth, in an organization called "That's My Child."

"We have a drum line, which is great," he says. "The boys are on the drums. We have dance class. We have acting class. We have art class."

Lee may be teaching kids performance arts and life skills today but he wasn't always on the right side of the tracks. Born to drug addicted parents in the slums of Chicago, he quickly fell into the wrong crowd, selling drugs by age 11, being shot in the chest by age 13 and by 19, he was in prison.

"When I got locked up in prison, I was asking God, what was this all about? And He was like I need you to go out there and help this next generation that's coming."

And that's what he's doing through "That's My Child. Arrianna Lee is 12 years old and has been a part of the organization since it first started. She acts, sings, and dances, which she says is her favorite.

"We practice from like 12 to 5," she says. "And they give us an hour lunch break and we're back to work. But mostly we compete and stuff and it's very fun to do. If I was a girl and I didn't know about this, I would want to join because it's really fun."

That's My Dog's loyal customers say they appreciate the work Lee is doing in the community.

"He's an entrepreneur, Mr Lee, and anything to give back to the community that you came from, is definitely a bonus," says David Sadler.

Boys and girls ages 10 to 18 are welcome to join That's My Child. Aside from performance arts, Lee helps children with their school work and teaches necessary life skills, like tying a tie and changing a tire.

"Let me help you excel in anything that you like," Lee says. "Whether it's dancing, whether it's singing, whether it's performing arts or any kind of arts...just anything. Whatever you want to do, I want to be that guy to try to make it happen for you."

You may have noticed that the little girl in the story was working at the That's My Dog Hot Dog stand. Lee rotates the children so each has a turn to do so. They keep all the tips from their shift and use it to buy school supplies.

Now Lee is saving up to get busses for the children so when they go to events, transportation will be easier.

To donate, volunteer or find out how you can help just go to thatsmychild.org or call 850-380-2315

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