Aje Hill is an expert salesman.

The Frederick native honed his skills as a drug dealer, using the profits to fund what he described as a “fast” lifestyle filled with cars, women and drug use of his own. After turning over a new leaf — prompted by a two-plus-year stint in prison for felony drug possession — the Frederick resident has taken his business savvy in a new direction.

Instead of drugs, he’s marketing hope, both to the at-risk children he mentors through his charity, I Believe in Me, and to the wider community, who through donations ensure the academic, behavioral and emotional support his program provides can continue.

On the latest episode of Frederick Uncut, Hill sat down with host Colin McGuire and News-Post reporter Nancy Lavin to talk about his past, his program and the future of I Believe in Me. He eventually hopes to start chapters nationwide, helping children who lack the support networks in their families or communities to overcome their circumstances and find success.

For now, though, he’s focused on expanding the Frederick chapter, finding a “sanctuary” space where the 54 elementary, middle and high school-aged children who participate can learn from him and from one another through academic help, cultural exposure and other activities. In making a difference, he’s also trying to make amends for the transgressions he committed in his former life, finding healing and avoiding temptation through his new purpose.

New podcasts air every Tuesday.

Podcasts are posted to www.fnppodcasts.com and are available via iTunes and Google Play and other podcast apps.

— From staff reports

Nancy Lavin covers social services, demographics and religion for The Frederick News-Post.

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