Augusta, GA – Helping kids in the Harrisburg Community
All children have hopes and dreams.
Marcus Odom, “I want to be an actor”;
Demetrius Meadows, “major in music and dance”;
Jamiaya Fields, “I wanna at least go to college for four years.”
As darkness falls across the CSRA, a new reality comes to light.
Nicholis Burney, “It was like an abandoned house and it was some boys in there and they was like come on in, I got a sack for you.”;
Demetrius Meadows, “I saw a kid walking out of there with a gun one day.”;
Lathaddes Hudson, “little kids just being on the corner at night.”
These stories are all too familiar for some and they happen to come from the Harrisburg neighborhood.
Ryan Hardin, Paine College student, “a lot of people want to write these kids off, they want to write this neighborhood off and when you really get to know these kids these people, they are just kids and people.”
Alphonso Parson, knows first hand the challenges these kids face, “everything that they’re explaining, I went through that same exact thing, the guns, the drugs, the violence….”
The South Carolina native is the first in his family to graduate from high school and go to college. Alphonso and these other college students volunteer in a program called “Kids with a Future” these mentors hope to make a positive impact in these young lives.
Tasha Sanders, Paine College, junior, “maybe I’ll like encourage kids to go to college.”
St. Luke United Methodist Church is a safe place for kids in Harrisburg, Marsha Jones, Director of Outreach at the Church.
Marsha, “money is always helpful, but it is not the cure. the cure is looking, becoming involved, helping with the healing process of a community like this and then not separating yourself from the hard issues and being very very careful not to judge.”
Chris Norris is a licensed therapist who spends time with many Harrisburg families, and has seen first hand the realities many people right here in Augusta face.
Chris, ” you know I’ve had a case where we’ve had a situation where kids as young as 10 have already began to start using, both alcohol and primarily marijuana.”
Marsha, “this is a hard neighborhood and our children live lives that are in many ways more difficult, than a suburban family.
That’s why positive influences are vital. When the children come to “Kids with a Future, they’re exposed to a lot more than mentors, they are able to play in a safe environment. They’re even able to learn about gardening. A community or recreation center would be welcomed.
While there are other community agencies that work in the Harrisburg area, unifying those efforts could yield greater results.
Chris, “I think that if we all come in and work together than we really could be a change agent for the youth in Harrisburg and the families in Harrisburg, they just need help and they’re asking for it.”
The many stories of success make all the effort worth while……
Marsha “this year we’ve had two who went to college, three who’ll be going onto college next year.”
Chris “to get those calls from the mothers, to get those calls from even the fathers to say that we appreciate you being in our sons lives,those are the things that are most precious.
When people in neighborhoods succeed, it affects the community as a whole.