Daris Lee grew up in Bonton learning to survive in the streets where he recalls feeling unphased by dangerous encounters — such as the time he was shot. Unconcerned for his own life, Daris earned his reputation in the streets. His lifestyle finally caught up to him when he was arrested and sent to prison for aggravated robbery and drug possession.
Almost five and half years later, Daris was released and committed to getting his life on track — but before he could even get his feet on the ground, he was pulled over and arrested for a laundry list of unpaid tickets and fines that, unbeknownst to him, had been accumulating while he was serving time. Overwhelmed by the prospect of paying off tens of thousands of dollars in debt, he found himself no less a prisoner at that point than while he had been locked up. Chronic stress led to high blood pressure, which ultimately landed him in the hospital where he was diagnosed with end-stage renal disease.
With his kidneys failing, Daris was now a prisoner in his own body, too. In the face of death, he experienced a “light switch moment” that changed everything. If he were to survive, he wanted to live. Tired of struggling, fighting, and hurting, he looked to his community — a community he feels he robbed for so many years — and vowed to dedicate the rest of his life to making amends and becoming a warrior for positive change.
Daris joined up with Daron Babcock in 2010, when his story helped imagine what would eventually become Bonton Farms. Although Daris has been involved since the farm's conception, he "officially" joined Bonton Farms in 2021 as the Health & Wellness Manager. Leveraging his personal journey, he now helps guide the organization’s Health & Wellness initiatives to lead his community toward better outcomes.
Daris is a shining example of how redemption and transformation are absolutely possible. He reminds us each day that attitude, gratitude, and a good sense of humor can change your life. You will almost never find him not smiling or laughing – and we are grateful for the bright light he shines everywhere he goes.
Visit bontonfarms.org to learn more.