A partnership to make a positive impact on the Blythe Avenue community was the focus of the Community Crime Reduction committee Tuesday.
“I think that it’s great that this is no longer a grant-driven group,” Juvenile Court director Terry Gallaher said.
All Nations Church of God Pastor Michael L. Whitmire said the church has begun a two-year project focusing on outreach and volunteerism in the Lay Street community.
“To really impact the community, we have to impact the youth,” Whitmire said.
He said the church was planning to volunteer at the Lay Street Boys & Girls Clubs, hold free cookouts and present dramas.
He said he hoped to teach the youth in the area some skits though the program and the church’s drama ministry.
Joe Mullins, Bradley Initiative for Church and Community’s Transitions program coordinator, said he is also interested in partnering with the committee.
The Transitions program helps families with 10- to 14-year-olds navigate this time of change through seven sessions focused on communication and building a strong family.
Mullins said as part of the program families are served a meal at which no technology distraction is present, and they can sit around the table as a family.
“It’s sad and comical all at the same time because you have these people who are just looking at each other like, ‘Well, what am I supposed to do with you?’” Mullins said.
Gallaher also mentioned potentially partnering with Westmore Church of God as part of a youth program, much like the 180 Center it once operated. The program would serve as a program for youth to be helped, mentored and taught.
Gallaher said he has also been in discussions about a regionwide gang reduction initiative.
Representatives from the Cleveland Police Department and Impact Cleveland gave updates on their work in the Blythe community. Both are working with community members as they establish a Neighborhood Watch program.
Impact Cleveland plans to get the Blythe Avenue community to a point where community members are confident and empowered to continue positive change before picking another neighborhood to help.
Janice Casteel, Cleveland city manager, said with the positive work being started the group would not have to look far to find others willing to partner.
Committee members and guests stressed that giving youth something to do is a good way to reduce crime.
Gallaher and senior youth service officer Nancy Stanfield said there are very few students involved in band or athletics who are in the Juvenile Court system.
City finance director Shawn McKay said sports and music give a young person “someone they don’t want to let down” by getting in trouble, even if their parents or guardians do not see it that way.