Non-profit: Work together to stop violence

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Cape Fear has been dealing with a lot of crime involving teens lately, but a non-profit here in the community may be the light at the end of the tunnel.

In just the past few weeks, two gang-related shootings in Wilmington killed a 14-year-old and 16-year-old.

“A whole lot of misguided youth, misguided youth,” Leading into New Communities Director Frankie Roberts said.

Local non-profit group Leading into New Communities, LINC, is working to reduce youth violence in our area.

Roberts is a Wilmington native and says he has not seen crime this bad before. He adds everyone needs to work together in order to see positive results.

“There is a lot of the young men that we serve that have little brothers or little sisters in middle school, so if we can influence their big brothers I think then we could have an effect on the middle schoolers, but that requires organizations sitting at the table and having that conversation,” Roberts said.

LINC also has a Lite Manhood program that is designed for young African American males to reduce barriers in education and employment.

Juan Bethea was a participant in Lite Manhood program and now is the interim youth director. He says he was once part of the problem, but now is part of the solution.

“I had a background of gang history and you only see one side of the story, what the media puts out, what the news puts out, but nobody knew who I was and what I had to offer the world,” Bethea said. “Now five or six years later, you see me still the same person and I am not back in jail.”

Bethea says he beat the odds.

“The same way I could be out there carrying a colored bandana , I could be out there helping the same guys,” Bethea said. “I mean, what makes me different? What makes any side of town different? Therefore, I am the proof right here. I am the same person just doing a different fight.”

Bethea says he hopes to see more success stories, just like his.

“I am friends with guys and they say, ‘Hey man, if you are doing that then don’t invite him. He doesn’t want any part,’ but that is what these guys have to know because a lot of these guys do not know how to stand on their own two feet,” Bethea said. “They think violence, guns, fighting or likes on Facebook empower them, when their own personal skills is what really gives them the power.”

The Lite Manhood program teaches the men appropriate leadership skills, acceptable school and community behavior, gain self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as learn appropriate etiquette for advancement within society.

“Listening skills which can get you a great job, parenting skills, small things but many guys do not understand what role that plays in their life,” Bethea said.

Roberts says the Lite Manhood program will be starting again in March.

You can find out more information here.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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