LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – What started as an outreach program at a church has morphed into a larger mission. Better Community Development, Inc. strives to rebuild and restore the lives of those living in Little Rock’s 12th Street corridor.

“It’s all about helping and serving people and loving people,” Deborah Bell, with BCD, said.

BCD has been in the community since the ‘80s. It’s a faith-based outreach program that helps restore the lives of those suffering from addiction, like Demetrius Kelley, who once battled substance abuse.

“It was a dark addiction,” Kelley said. “I was really addicted to that and in the streets, which led me to court issues.”

Some clients go to BCD after the court orders it. Others come on their own. Regardless of how you get there, Kelley said it will change your life.

“It gave me the tools I needed to sustain a normalized life,” Kelley said.

After completing the program, Kelley went on to work for BCD. He’s a community health worker and counselor-in-training.

“It’s a holistic process here in what we do now,” Kelley explained.

The Empowerment Center houses a state-licensed treatment program and offers permanent housing for those in need.

“Some of the people who actually came through our residential substance abuse program who have continued now and were homeless and now they’re actually homeowners living here in the community and serving,” Bell said.

It also helps clients with career, life skills, and technology training. Because of the great work done at BCD, Rainwater, Holt and Sexton named BCD as this month’s Difference Maker and donated $1,000 to the organization.

BCD plans to use the donation to enhance its services and help more people like Kelley.

“It’s just the little puzzle pieces that we help put together that make us a little village,” Kelley said. “After a while, you become family and the family structure is what’s beautiful about this place.”

Many who complete the program go on to serve at BCD.