Romi's Story

Southside Rides empowers its students to become independent individuals who go on to fulfill their own dreams in the community.  One inspiring case lies in the story of 25 year-old Romi White, a former student of Southside Rides who now owns his own shop called “The House of Customs.”

White lights up a cigarette as the interview begins and appears rough around the edges with his sagging pants and diamond-studded ears. Nevertheless, he is an undeniably charismatic and eloquent man who instantly forms a connection with everyone he meets.   While talking, it is impossible to ignore White’s overriding passion for his new life, as it is apparent in everything he says.

White turned to Southside Rides after a two-year incarceration for selling drugs and producing counterfeit money.  As a longtime acquaintance of Dave Moore, founder of Southside Rides, White heard about Moore’s turnaround in jail and his subsequent inspiration to start a program teaching auto skills to at-risk youth. Following his release from jail, White experienced a pivotal turning point in his life when he began at Southside Rides.

White praises Moore’s impact on youth in the community.  He says stating Moore provides at-risk youth, just like White once was, with the structure and guidance they are lacking by giving them a goal to work towards.

“Dave was a father figure to me,” says White, who was raised by a single mother.  Because Moore made such a lasting impact on White’s life, White now feels called to do the same for youth struggling with the issues that he has put behind him.

“Through Dave changing my life, I was inspired to go change the lives of other people,” White explains.

Not only did Moore inspire White to be a father figure to other at-risk youth, but he also inspired White to be a father to his own daughter who is now four years old.  After going through the program at Southside Rides, in which White met “his first real girlfriend” and the mother of his daughter, White felt a strong to conviction to be an active part of his daughter’s life.  Pride for his daughter was written all over his face while he shows me pictures of his daughter and gushes over the birthday party that he had recently planned for her.  His auto shop, White explains, provides him with a means to support his daughter and be the kind of father he so badly wants to be.

In learning the auto and paint skills at Southside Rides, White has discovered not only the means to make an honest living, but a passion as well.

“I’m taking nothing and making treasure out of it. It’s awesome,” White proclaims.

In fact, White is so driven by this new found career that he is in the process of opening a second shop in Wilmington, North Carolina.

“I feel like I conquered Winston already so now it’s time to take on a new area.”  Indeed, White has made great strides in this community and in his own life.

“When I look at my life and see how it moved so fast” he says, “it seems like a dream. I can’t believe it.”

-- Grace Weir (article) and Kevin Mallary (video)