Dunbar church sponsors mentor program to keep kids off the streets

FORT MYERS, Fla.- Guns, drugs, and violence are all part of the culture in some parts of the Dunbar community of Fort Myers.

WINK News reports on the killings of children and teens far too often. But now one local church, right in the heart of the violence-stricken area, is working to change that from the ground up.

“We have to take responsibility for what is going on,” said Faye Barrett.

Inside the Mt. Olive African Methodist Episcopal Church, there is a new culture forming. The church is pairing mentors with children who live in Dunbar in an attempt to stop them from falling victim to the streets.

“I want to get good grades,”said 13-year-old Richi Rodriguez.

Rodriguez and other teens that live in a Dunbar foster home have now been paired with mentors. He was taken away from his mother last year, but it is still too tough for him to talk about.

At a breakfast, Mt. Olive paired the foster kids with mentors from the church’s Young Women’s Initiative.

The mentors grew up in the same community and they want to prevent the kids from a life of crime.

“Show them things, you know, that the world has to offer other than Dunbar. Take them to a baseball game, take them to football games. Get them out,” said mentor Jaime Kearse.

“We have to actually go out in the street. We have to take back our youth. We have to take those guns away,” said Barrett.

The pastor of Mt. Olive, Rev. James Givens, feels the good people of Dunbar need to do a better job of coming together, create a more cohesive vision and take back the community.

“What we are trying to do is minimize the crime we have in the neighborhood and give our young folk a new direction, a new vision, a new hope on life and an understanding that I can be better than what I am today,” said Rev. Givens.

For more information on this program, call 239-332-0305 or visit www.mtoliveftmyers.org.

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