SHALLOTTE, NC (WWAY) -- "I, too, was a troubled youth. I was in gangs myself when I was younger,” N.O.T.T.T. Foundation Founder Raymond Bates said. “By the grace of God, I'm standing here today trying to help other young men and young women not make the same mistakes that I made. When we're out here getting involved in illegal things, we don't think about the consequences until it's too late."
Bates started the N.O.T.T.T., or "Nothing Other than the Truth" Foundation four years ago when he saw a need to help kids in the community. The N.O.T.T.T. Foundation began holding "Stop the Violence" rallies after the still-unsolved murder of South Brunswick High School football player Marcus Hankins.
Barbara Hawkins is Hankins' aunt. She said she struggles with his death every day and doesn't want another child to end up in the same situation.
"I want to try to help the young people more and try to keep them on the right track and keep them from getting into gangs and stuff,” Hankins’ aunt Barbara Hawkins said. “If I can help one of them, I'll be happy."
N.O.T.T.T. is making an impact on eight-year-old Davian Willis-Howard.
"It helps the community be a better place,” Willis-Howard said. “I’m being good and listening to my parents."
The rally even got support from local politicians.
"Gang participation is on the rise, and there are a lot of other types of violence, of course, with domestic violence and this, that and the other,” North Carolina Senator Bill Rabon said. “In the summertime, when the temperature rises, emotions tend to rise, and sometimes people do things that maybe they shouldn't."
"There's more than standing on a street corner at midnight, telling lies and thinking you're a tough guy,” rally co-producer Mike Forte said. “Rather than getting involved in these gangs, how about getting involved in your school and your community and your church and sports."
"Change the way that you think. Think about your life in more of a positive way,” Bates said. “Don't look at what the TV tells you. Don't listen to this rap-crap, rock-crap. Listen to yourself. Look at something positive. Find positive people to be around."
For more information about the N.O.T.T.T. Foundation, visit http://thenotttfoundation.org/.