May, 22 2018
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Illinois Man Uses Custom Car Shop to Help Troubled Teens
A Mackinaw man plans to mix wrenches and religion to keep at-risk kids on the straight and narrow, all while creating some show-stopping, head-turning custom cars.
“We're going to be pretty much like big brothers to these kids,” said Juan Rios Jr., who soon will open Glory to Glory Customs at 228 Margaret St.
About Juan Rios Jr.
Rios is an ordained minister who runs the Impact Zone youth group in Morton, teaches Bible classes in Peoria and does ministry work at the federal prison in Pekin.
He also has a resume of creating custom cars that's almost as lengthy as his religious work.
His custom creations have been featured in the first and second “The Fast and the Furious” movies; he's worked as a design consultant for Toyota USA on the Toyota Scion; and has built custom show cars for about a half dozen hip-hop artists.
How Rios Will Use His Expertise to Help Troubled Teens
Now, Rios will combine both of those worlds in the Christian-oriented shop that will serve as a vocational center for 40 to 60 Tazewell County youth.
“We're going to teach them to work with honor and integrity,” said Rios, 33, who is also an emergency medical technician in South Pekin. “Our big thing is honor and integrity. If I had to describe the project in two words, that would be it.”
The End Goal for these Troubled Youth
The goal is to help teach a good work ethic, instill responsibility, teach a valuable trade, keep youth out of trouble and help with job placement, not necessarily in the automotive field, said Rios, a husband and father of two.
A full-time staff will be the backbone of the shop. Each employee will serve as a team leader to a small group of youth, who will rotate to various areas of work. From small projects like window tinting to full-scale custom paint jobs and even office work, the young apprentices will get a chance to try it all.
“That way they develop a different set of skills,” he said.
At-Risk Youth who Will Participate
Only youth from Tazewell County will be accepted into the program. Rios said he is currently accepting applications and will be open for new customers by January.
Rios is in talks with the Tazewell County Juvenile Probation Office to give juvenile offenders the opportunity to work off their court-ordered restitution and fines through the shop.
Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Kimberly Olar said a decision could be reached by next week.
Rios would like the shop to become an accredited class and a vocational school through Illinois Central College.
Today's youth can relate to him and his program, Rios said, because it's similar to what they see in pop culture.
Television shows like “Pimp My Ride” and the success of various motorcycle-building shows like “American Chopper” have helped open the door.
“We wear jerseys, we wear bling, we wear watches,” Rios said, adding he's out to prove that crime isn't the way to obtain that lifestyle. “If you work hard and keep it honest, you don't need to run drugs and be on the streets to get those things.”
Rios' friend and business partner Brian Yarbrough said Rios is an inspiration to everyone around him.
“He is just so oriented on helping people, it's almost to a ridiculous point,” Yarbrough said. “It's more than just work. There's an extra additive to it that brings out the best in every project.”
Incredible Projects to Inspire and Tesch These Troubled Teens
Those projects currently include a Lamborghini Countach stretched into a 23-foot limousine and a Cadillac meshed with a Silverado truck.
But Rios remains humble about his automotive skills and says he's guided by a higher power.
“This is merely a talent God has given me,” he said. “I want to know I took that talent and sowed it into other kids.”
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Illinois Juvenile Court Needs Help 10/28/07
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Illinois Teen Sentenced to Boot Camp 10/26/07
Florida Boot Camp Verdict Protested 10/23/07
New York Showcases New Program to Help Troubled Youth 10/23/07
Vermont Facility Changes Policy for Restraining Troubled Teens 10/22/07
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