WJTV News Channel 12 - The Boys and Girls Club works to curb gang activity from inside

The Boys and Girls Club works to curb gang activity from inside out

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KINSTON, N.C. -

Two Kinston Police Officers will be recognized for their service in curbing gang-related activities in Lenoir County at Tuesday night's city council meeting. Sgt. Stephen Reavis and Sgt. Dennis Taylor will receive the "Gang Unit of the Year" award and they're not alone when it comes to fighting off what some believe is an epidemic in some portions of Lenoir County.

The Boys and Girls Club is also working with kids in the community to make sure they have other options when faced with the opportunity to join a gang. According to leaders, children say gangs are everywhere. Whether it's in schools or neighborhoods, and at times, even within families, the club works to show kids positive alternatives to a life of crime.

"I know that gangs, even though it's a negative opportunity for them, it does give them that sense of belonging," Donyell Jones, Vice President of Operations for the Boys and Girls Club of Lenoir County says. "It gives them someone they can depend on, that family feeling so we try to provide the opportunity within the club and show them the positive opportunities for doing the right thing. We show them how to give back to the community rather than taking from the community."

Jones says gangs are appealing to children that may have an absent parent or a family that is struggling financially. He says gangs offer a false sense of security, at times in terms of money and support. Programs like "Street Smarts" are put in place to educate children about the reality of gang activity and redirect their attention and focus to their studies. Leaders say their job can be tough at times, but when they are able to make a difference, it does not go unnoticed.

"For them to come in and to hear that the club saved my life, or now I want to go to college because of The Boys and Girls Club or I'm doing better in school or my home life is better, or I get a meal every day... I get a book bag, I have that relationship with that one-on-one person. That can def instill some of those moral values that they need," Jones says. "Some of the discipline and structure and also just the love and care and genuine support they're lacking. We do hear it every day and sometimes it's not always through their words. Sometimes it's them coming back each and every day."

The Boys and Girls Club works to change the community by working from the inside out and you can help. Whether you simply make a donation or volunteer your time, contributors are created with making a difference in the lives of members and the community as a whole. To learn more about how you can help, click here.

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