NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - It was the words of Johnny Cash and the death of an employee considered family that caused Bill Miller to act. The CEO and Founder of ICON Entertainment are "all in" when it comes to helping kids from underserved communities realize there's a better way. And he's making a difference 4 Your Community.
"Johnny Cash was my example throughout my life." Bill Miller told me. "And he had a song called "Man in Black" that resonates with any human being on Earth that's ever heard it."
The song shines a light on those in need, and Miller is shining the light even brighter. After one of his employees and friends, Chef Timothy Fields, was murdered, Miller wanted to do more. He met Clemmie Greenlee, the Founder of Nashville Peacemakers. A group is working to give youth in distressed neighborhoods basic life skills and self-worth.
"We started talking about situations like Tim's. Where Tim came from the inner city and had a dream and came to us and started at the bottom and worked his way up." Miller said.
Tim was given a chance for success, and Miller wanted to share that same chance with other kids. At the time, Greenlee was mentoring a few dozen kids who live in the poor and violent 37208 zip code.
"I was just sitting there, and "House of Cards" just popped into my mind. And I said, why don't we take the opposite approach and show them that what you see isn't always necessarily what you're going to get." Remembered Miller.
So, Miller invited Greenlee, and her kids, to a night at one of his restaurants, House of Cards. A dining experience that also celebrates the Art of Magic. Giving most of the kids an experience they've never had. "Your life is magic," Miller said. "Set out upon a path and prove that things that seem impossible to the eye, and to the heart, and the mind even aren't necessarily impossible. You can make them happen, and that's what we want to do."
"I don't want them to think that just because they live in this environment that they have to stay in this environment in their mind." Added Greenlee. "And if they start to see other particular beautified things, then they can dream and believe that they can also live like that."
Miller is also developing a mentorship program for at-risk kids, using his businesses as a training ground, giving hope to kids who need it most.
"After this, they are going to have something to be hopeful about and dream about," Greenlee said.
"All of us. Everyone should get out. Spread the kindness. Spread the love and do what you can to help people." Miller said.
Miller is challenging other restaurants, businesses, and corporations to start up programs of their own, giving kids in underserved neighborhoods much-needed hope as well as an opportunity.