BELIEVING IN HIMSELF
It started with an affirmation Mar Butler told himself while he was in prison. “I would tell myself ‘I am Mar Butler, a financially independent entrepreneur. I am a great husband, I am a loving father. I am a successful motivational speaker, teacher, leader and author.’”
Mar was born and raised in West Dallas, an area known for high crime and low income. The men in his family were caught in a cycle of poverty and recidivism – and first ended up in juvenile detention himself at the age of 15. “There were no restorative programs like we have nowadays that actually cater to individuals who live in underserved and underprivileged communities,” he said. After serving two prison sentences as an adult – during which he missed out on years of his daughters’ childhoods – he was determined never to go down that path again. And to help others from going down it at all.
HOW TO SUCCEED
One way to be successful in this space is by creating a nonprofit organization. Mar created one called TREE Leadership, which stands for the philosophy he created that he credits with changing his own life – truth, restore, empower and evolve. He’s working with people aged 12 to 25 on how to become community advocates themselves, working at a grassroots level.
Now, his affirmation has become reality. Mar is a social entrepreneur, writer, motivational speaker and coach. He’s changing lives – but that comes with challenges.
To succeed, you also have to be ready to lead – even when that means challenging perceptions. “I didn’t get in this for people to follow me,” he said. “I had a vision and I was going to pursue it, whether I had anybody following me or not.” He explained, “I got into this, and I became one of the prominent leaders in the city and community because I had resolved to make a difference.”
Finally, Mar explained that you have to help people understand your vision so they will take part in the healing. Not everyone will understand what someone else will try to accomplish. In fact, some of the people being helped might not even know why you want to help them – a barrier that has to be overcome before healing can take place. “If they don’t understand why you are helping them, sometimes they can be some of your biggest obstacles and adversaries in this work.” He said. “When they don’t see it, they don’t understand it, and if they don’t understand it, they don’t support it.”
You also need the right team behind you. That’s why Mar works with Heal America.
HEALING AMERICA TOGETHER
In addition to breaking through barriers, Mar is also busting silos. Heal America brings together community leaders who want to make a difference so they can connect with others going through similar challenges and focus on their shared goals – together.
Mar knew Heal America’s founder Bishop Omar Jahwar from their days playing the drums together in church as children and was eager to work with this movement for change. Then, Heal America Changemaker Antong Lucky asked Mar to join the organization’s recent Summer of Healing – Heal America’s recent initiative which supported community leaders across the country by offering resources and grants to leaders and organizations working to decrease violence and bridge divides among community members and law enforcement. Mar recalls Antong saying “Let’s break the monotony, let’s change the trajectory of people thinking that great leaders cannot work together. Let’s see what we can do.”
The Summer of Healing delivered. “We put our heads together to find out what we can do together to make an even greater impact,” Mar said. “That’s the best thing to come out of all of this.”