TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Rechi Butler as the 29th Lightning Community Hero of the season during the first period of tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues. Butler, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Derrick Brooks Charities, Abe Brown Ministries and House of Restoration.
Tonight’s Lightning Community Hero is a living example that there is hope for those who have lost their way. After committing 21 felonies, Butler had a spiritual encounter and made the decision in 1989 to turn away from a life of delinquency and criminal activity that had previously characterized his existence. From that moment moving forward, he has made it a mission to use his story to pull other convicts out of the abyss that once held him captive.
To carry out this mission, Butler started his own company, Irene and Joe’s Lawn Care, and hires ex-offenders to give them a second chance at life when very few employers will give them any consideration. In 2009, he founded the Get It Straight Foundation, a non-profit organization, to reach youth and adults with the message of self-empowerment, positive decision making and avoiding situations that lead to bad outcomes.
Butler has organized anti-crime rallies in parts of Tampa with the highest crime activity. He uses his story to speak to inmates in federal prisons and youth jails. Butler also conducts life skills training and fatherhood initiatives to help single fathers reconnect with their children.
In addition to tonight’s recognition, Butler’s positive contributions in the Tampa Bay community have garnered the attention of local media and the reception of numerous other awards.