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Documentary planned about ex-con’s charity

ANNAPOLIS — A lot of people know Larry Griffin, but they don’t know exactly what he does.

Bruce Burns films Larry Griffin in his office at the Stanton Community Center in Annapolis.

A new documentary about his life and charitable organization, We Care and Friends, could remedy the situation. In turn, it could also help a lot of people, which is what Griffin is all about.

We Care, which he founded in 1990, assists people with finding food, housing, clothing, employment, drug treatment and family counseling.

Griffin, 62, is a former drug addict who served jail time and was homeless for two years. He’s been clean since 1987.

“The main thing is to get people to understand there are people who need help,” Griffin said. “(This film) is going to wake up a lot of people.”

A small group of volunteers, led by Arnold neighbors Bruce Burns and Tom Hall, is making the movie. Neither has prior filmmaking experience, but they’re confident the movie will be ready for a Feb. 2 screening.

“The more you learn about Larry and We Care, the more appreciation you have for what he’s done,” said Hall, a retired marketing executive with Six Flags.

The premiere will be at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis. The finished film is expected to be 25 to 30 minutes long and feature some of Griffin’s music. He plays in the reggae band Mama Jama.

“I thought it would be a different way to help the community,” said Burns, who owns an insurance agency.

Burns got the idea for the film from Mike Tyson. Really.

About 18 months ago, he was watching a movie about Tyson which delved into his upbringing as well as his troubles.

The way it was presented was powerful, and Burns started to wonder if the same format could be used to highlight a local resident. His mind almost immediately turned to Griffin, whom he knew from service on many boards for civic and community associations.

“Larry is a larger-than-life person,” Burns said. “(The movie) could be a link to the next generation of Larrys.”

It could also be used as a fundraiser for We Care and other groups, Burns said.

Armed with the general concept, he soon contacted Hall, and the project began to take shape. They’ve been working on it for about a year.

“We were somewhat naive, but we’ve made great progress,” Burns said.

A core group of 10 is now involved with the film. Rick Wade, a veteran of local theater, has been providing advice about the overall shape of the project.

Like Hall, he lives near Burns. “You have to be careful how you walk your dog,” Wade joked, “because he’ll find you. He’s hard to say no to.”

In reality, Wade knew about Griffin and We Care and was happy to help. The same for Paul Belleteire, a Glen Burnie resident who is handling the filming.

“Larry is one person, but he changes lives for multiple people,” said Belletiere, who runs a videography company as well as a cruise-planning service.

He has about 80 hours of footage already, and plans to get more. The amount of work hasn’t phased him, because he’s more concerned with making a great film.

“I believe the good Christian thing to do is give back,” he said.

Of course, none of this would be possible without Griffin, who was on board from the moment he was approached. He did, however, run the idea by his wife first.

“It’ll get people more aware of what’s going on in this town,” said Griffin, who runs We Care from a small office in the Stanton Community Center. “We should not let people in this town fall through the cracks.”

Burns hopes when the movie ends, people stand up and clap. He also hopes they’ll open up their wallets and hearts — “to adopt We Care and Friends and a philosophy of helping out a needy population.”