Boys and Girls Clubs are Committed to Violence Reduction
Kudos to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Michigan for stepping up and applying for a $2 million grant from the U.S. Justice Department to reduce violent crime in our area. Berrien County has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the state of Michigan. This is a much-needed grant to support much-needed programming.
If the application is approved, the Boys and Girls Clubs will be able to coordinate a community-wide effort to develop and implement evidence-based youth engagement initiatives, with the goal of providing positive alternatives to violence.
The grant application was supported by the Berrien County Health Department, Sheriff Paul Bailey, Prosecutor Steve Pierangeli, Chief Judge Mabel Mayfield, County Commissioner Chokwe Pitchford, and many other individuals from the community.
The leaders of the Boys and Girls Clubs have recognized the urgency of reducing the level of violence in our county and have acted in a positive way to develop methods for accomplishing this goal.
Some community members who read about this grant application have mistakenly criticized it as a “gun control” initiative. It is not. The grant money is intended to influence young people in positive ways through mentoring, counseling, and other means of positive support. It has nothing to do with taking away anyone’s guns. Sheriff Bailey explained his support for the grant in these words: “I’m not in favor of taking guns from responsible gun owners. But I am in favor of getting young people to stop the violence.”
With this grant application, the Boys and Girls Clubs have once again provided an important service to our community. Everyone in Berrien County will benefit from their willingness to take this important step to reduce violence in Southwest Michigan.
Dr. Larry Feldman