"Being able to see someone doing things without turning to the streets is a positive thing," Miller said of his cousin. "He was always there with words of encouragement. He didn't like seeing me running around, acting crazy."
Miller surprised cousin Don -- and, in so doing, honored their bond -- when two years ago he named the KYFC turkey dinner in honor of Don's father.
Earl Wilson had been a cook at Bennigan's for 20 years and coached a couple of generations of kids as head of a midget football league team called the Western Generals. He cooked the turkeys the first two years of the dinner, but died two months before the 2009 event.
"I found out the night of the event in 2009," said Wilson, acknowledging it was an emotional surprise from this cousin of his, who had set his life back on track and had been the best man at his wedding.
The work done by the Keep Your Faith Corporation is embodied in the very name itself, said Wilson.
"We grew up on the West Side of Charleston -- Grant Street, Main Street, Florida Street. We grew up right there in that community that sometimes is riddled with crimes," he said.
"That community has shaped us and made us the men that we are. That community gets a bad rap sometimes. But if you keep the faith and keep your faith in that community and in yourself there's nothing you can't accomplish.
"We want to just let people know that the situation you're in can get better. We've 'quote-unquote' made it out of this situation and we want to give back, to let you know that, you know, 'When you climb, don't forget to pull.' Don't forget to help those that have helped you to get where you're at," Wilson said.
For his part, Dural Miller is a busy man these days, and not just rounding up turkeys.
He does literacy work with students at the West Side's Mary C. Snow Elementary School as the broader work of KYFC is year-round, not just tied to a dinner.
He also works as director of programs and services at the Liberty Center near Covenant House, a transitional home for men exiting prison with mental health and substance abuse problems. On the side, he also runs the residential and commercial Mountaineer Cleaning Service.
Miller can gauge how far his life has moved from one incident this past Halloween.
"We were out there with the kids. A lady ran up to me and whispered in my ear: 'Would you help me learn how to read?' Because she wanted to better herself for her and her child."
It took him back to the first day he got the business license for the Keep your Faith Corporation, he said.
"It kind of brought it all back to together. This is what that's for. It was like, yeah, man! You gotta continue to do this."
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3107.