LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s a story of a father’s love for his son, and the pain of losing him.

“When he was murdered you know I had darkness come. I was feeling in a dark moment,” said Lansing Father, Michael McKissic.

But it’s also one of healing and hopes that today is anything but small.

“For me seeing how far it’s come you know it brings tears to my eyes to see that the people are helping us to keep his legacy alive,” McKissic.

McKissic lost his son Mikey to gun violence in 2015. It’s a case that is still unsolved, but today McKissic is using the memory of his son to help build a new foundation for the next generation, all with a hammer. It’s part of a home renovation apprenticeship program within the Mikey 23 Foundation.

“Picking up a hammer instead of a gun can help stop gun violence in our city and that’s our whole goal right there and also to give them a career and let them know that they can be a part of something that’s good.”

The walls inside this home tell the story of the more than 70 people who have come through the apprenticeship program. They take on homes like these and making them new, including Mikey’s brother who with every project hopes to do one thing with every kid who picks up a drill.

“Touch the youth and you know chance the way it’s going I just want him (Mikey) to be that to be the reason you know to finally change,” said Mikey’s brother and leader in the program Corey Morris.

The organization is on house number four, homes the city was going to tear down. And while the pain of losing his son never fully leaves, Mckissic says the darkness he once felt is gone.

“The person that done that. I forgive them you know I really forgive them, and people say why would you forgive a person that murdered your son. The forgiveness is not really for them. the forgiveness is for myself,” said McKissic.

He knows Mikey is looking down, proud of what dad has built.

“Mikey didn’t have any kids so I always say these are Mikey’s kids and I really appreciate these kids. They are doing more for me than I am for them.”

As for Mikey’s murder case, there is currently a 70-thousand-dollar reward for information that leads to an arrest. The amount goes up with every house they build.

HOME | m23f (mikey23foundation.org)