Having a Positive Life After Prison

Sam Matamua
Sam Matamua
Matthew Taufetee
Matthew Taufetee

PALOLO VALLEY (KHNL ) -- In Palolo Valley, twenty two men live under one roof.  They were all convicted for drugs or violence and some were rival gang members.  But now they are representing a different type of gang.

They're called the peacemakers.

Today they're loading up a food bank in Palolo Valley. But their mission is to keep kids out of gangs and away from drugs.

They do it by telling their stories.

"I started going to jail at the age of 15 for kidnapping attempted murders robberies. i spent most of my teen years in jail. I didn't get out until I was 21.  I came out went right back into the gangs. Went back to jail for another attempted murder," First Lap client Sam Matamua said.

All of the men here have served time. Many have spent half their lives in prisons in hawaii and on the mainland.

Sam Matamua just got out nine months ago.  He is choosing to follow a different path this time.

"Jail is not a place to be there's no life when you're in jail," Matamua said.

And he's getting help  a former gang rival and ex-convict.

" You know I was out there doing anything I could to represent our hood, our gang colors," First Lap director Matthew Taufetee said.

"I got into a fight right here in this community in Palolo got into another fight. I ended up taking a man's life So now I was back in prison facing life.  The family retaliated...they killed my older brother you know it just broke my heart. I was a kid crying in jail not knowing what to do," he said.

But Matthew Taufetee found his answer by starting first lap or life after prison.

It's a faith based program designed as a transition back into civilian life.  It includes anger and drug rehabilitation programs.

And all the men live in this building until they are able to live normal lives.

And life after prison for these men is succeeding.

"They feel that sense of love and respect so it allows them to open up.  We've got some amazing stories coming out of this place. Guys that graduated, started their own business getting involved with the community," Taufetee said.

"Matt, he's just one big brother to me.  You let it all out let him know what's going on My god this program made a big difference in my life.  I came out with nothing and today I have something I have my freedom I got my freedom today so I just want to hold onto it,"  Matamua said.

Taufetee's doing it all out of his own pocket. Without grants or help from the government.

"I'm always faithful that something's going to turn up," Taufetee said.

Taufetee has been running first lap since 2002.  He pays for the program with profits from two other businesses he owns.  He says it is a struggle but he knows running first lap is his calling.