Erie Success Stories focuses on the people in the community and their journeys to being successful. Erie resident Mike Cooks defines success by the journey and not the destination or tangible items a person may have.

Michael Hooks is from Erie and grew up in a single-parent household. He was the only boy of the family and had a rough upbringing.

"That was the first low," said Hooks. "Being born into a condition where I was already set up to fail."

Hooks went to prison at the age of 23 and did 8 years for drugs. Since his release, he has been self-employed and graduated from Edinboro University.

"If I could do this, Mike Hooks, if I could pull myself back together, have a respectable name, own a business and graduate from college, you can do it as well."

 Michael Hooks pursues his passion of helping others through his nonprofit. The Michael Making Lives Better Foundation works to serve the underprivileged kids of the Erie Community.

"The world will make room for your gift, meaning that you don't have to follow the footsteps and patterns of someone else. You can create your own because we were all blessed and born with a gift."

After many setbacks and failures in life, Hooks learned it's more important to give than it is to take. Through the MMLB foundation, Hooks hopes to reach the next generation and teach them they can do anything they set their minds to.

"My message is believing in your goals and your dreams. Never let anyone tell you that you can't do something," said Hooks.

Hooks wants people to understand that in order to be successful, you have to go through something to get somewhere.

Visit his website to learn more about Hooks and the Michael Making Lives Better Foundation.