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Stop the Violence Program

Breaking the cycle of violence and saving lives, from the inside-out. That's the hope of a grassroots program in Asheville that took its latest step forward. Stop the Violence focuses on the city's poorest neighborhoods, with a goal of change for the youngest residents on up. 
The venue was Asheville's Hill Street Baptist Church, a working-lunch attended by political leaders,  people in law enforcement, clergy members and neighborhood activists. They're all involved in Stop the Violence, a community coalition developing action plans for low-income areas, primarily public housing. That's where much of the violence happens, like last month's shooting death of man at Livingston Apartments.
For many of the children who live here, it takes a toll on what they hope for themselves. "They don't realize how valuable they are, so it's up to the community to build up that value. The only way that's going to happen is for that child to see somebody that looks like them, in a position of success," says Michael Hayes with Hillcrest Residents Association.

Dewayne Barton and Michael Hayes are among the young leaders trying to bring change from within. "It can't be a non-profit with a cape on saying, oh, I have the answers, it can't be a preacher outside who don't live in the community and say I got the answers. The answers have got to come from the people who live in the community, and we have to train up that next generation," says Dewayne Barton with Green Opportunities.
Three-year-old Jaden Parker fits that description. He and his mother Jenny live at Hillcrest Apartments. Jenny likes what Stop the Violence is about, and says she's already trying. "If I can just but help one and just like, you know, try to let my family be a light to others around them, and just be, just try to be a better influence," she says.
There are two big gatherings coming up for Hillcrest. A hip-hop dance Sunday, then the annual family reunion on August 16th. The emphasis is bringing neighbors together and back to school.

By: Frank Kracher
Follow Frank on Twitter @FrankKracher


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