Eduardo Haynes, 34, just couldn't leave Mooresville. But he tried.
After earning his bachelor's degree in business management at N.C. State, he decided to live in Huntersville. After that, he lived in Concord with his wife, Jameka. But after almost five years, he realized he had to move back.
"I tried to stay away, but something just drew me back," said Haynes.
Haynes lives in The Farms neighborhood in Mooresville, with his wife and their children Maxwell, 6, and Jayden, 5 months.
"There was work to be done in Mooresville," said Haynes.
Specifically, Haynes recognized the need for positive role models for African American youth.
Though he became a successful financial professional on his own, he realized he and his junior high and high school classmates would have benefited from the presence of positive role models.
In his family, he is the youngest of three sons, and is the only one who decided to pursue higher education.
Haynes made a very conscious decision to succeed through education while in junior high. His English teacher recommended he shouldn't take the more difficult honors classes - after all, he probably wouldn't succeed.
He recognized that following this recommendation could keep him from a successful future. So he ignored his teacher, and enrolled in the Honor's Program at Mooresville High School.
It was a decision he says allowed for his success.
Through these honors classes, he became involved in community service programs, which he credits with his current desire to help the community.
In addition he saw the need of positive African American role models when he graduated from Mooresville High School and says he was one of only two African American students who decided to go to college.
Not only does Haynes have his bachelor's degree, he earned an MBA in international business at Gardner-Webb University and a doctorate in business administration at Phoenix University.
About a year ago, Haynes became active with the Mooresville Community Alliance. Incorporated in 2007, Chairwoman Brenda F. Mckee said the Alliance's goal is to encourage future high school graduates of all ethnic backgrounds to pursue higher education and provide scholarships.
Since its inception, the group has hosted an annual prayer breakfast on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Under the guidance of Haynes, this breakfast has grown.
In 2010, the breakfast had about 40 attendees. In 2011, he rebranded the breakfast into the Day of Unity Breakfast, and attendance ballooned to approximately 200 attendees.
Intended as a call-to-action, the breakfast now encourages community service.
"I think of it as an action day ... a day to go out and do something positive (in the community)," said Haynes.
The Alliance offers book scholarships to new college students and provides trips for high school students to attend events at colleges.
Next year, Haynes hopes to expand the Alliance's community footprint to include the Chick-fil-A Leadercast, a leadership conference focusing on community service and leadership development.
This conference features successful speakers from all walks of life and is broadcast to select satellite organizations across the nation.
If successful, Haynes hopes the Leadercast will help him reach more people in Mooresville to instill the necessity of community service, and allow them to learn.
He thinks it will strengthen the Mooresville Community Alliance's focus of enhancing the community's exposure to education, culture and knowledge.
"It never hurts anyone to grow," said Haynes.