When Moe Hill reads about a child in trouble or hears about something crazy a teen-ager did, the 56-year-old can only sigh.

He doesn’t pass judgment nor does he condemn. See, there was a time when Hill was that teen-ager making those bad decisions. And, if it wasn’t for someone who went out of his way to counsel him and show him his way at the time, Hill knows his life would have ended up much differently than it is now.

“I was those kids,” said Hill, who is a licensed professional counselor and a community activist in Alice. “I grew up with a single mom and the whole thing. I was running around and getting in trouble, but there was this man who took the time to show me right from wrong and put me on the right path.”

Hill said if it was that man, Geni Martin, who was a director at the Boys & Girls Club in his neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, he never would have made it.

But Hill did succeed. With help, he finished high school and went on to play college football at Upper Iowa State and eventually Texas A&I University in Kingsville in 1979 where he went on to become starting linebacker. He left school and returned many years later to graduate. Along the way, he made South Texas his home.

Now a counselor, Hill said he’s in position to help when possible. He said Alice, like many small town communities, is in danger of losing children to the streets and poor decisions.

“Growing up like I did with a single mom and no father, I know how tough it is,” Hill said. “That’s how I grew up, so here in Alice, I can see that there are a lot of children growing up like I did, and if we don’t reach out and get to them, we’re going to lose them.

“I was the kind of guy that was on the sidelines for a long time and I saw a lot of things, but now that I’m able to, I want to do my part for our kids and our community."

Hill said Alice is a strong community, but it too needs saving, the kind of saving which comes from different people working together for the same cause despite different backgrounds and beliefs.

“I like to say that here in Alice we need to be bridge builders,” he said. “If we don’t bring us together, we’re going to drown as a community.”

February is Black History Month, and Hill represents the hard-working and proud community which calls Alice home.

One of Hill’s projects is his annual speed camp, which is a weekly camp through the summer which focuses on improving young athletes’ speed and quickness. Though a series of drills, most of which are used by college and professional athletic programs, the athletes learn how to run faster. Hill also uses the opportunity to mentor the youngsters and hand out advice on life.

This past summer, 648 different youngsters attended the camp through the seven weeks.