DANVILLE, Va. – Saving lives one at a time, Danville hires outreach workers to combat troubled youth and gang violence.
For three years, Danville Youth and Gang Violence Prevention Coordinator Robert David worked by himself trying to save youth from going down the wrong path.
“You don’t throw anyone away,” he said. “Because I can’t tell you and look at you and tell you what your potential is.”
More than a dozen people have graduated so far from his workforce readiness program called Project Imagine.
Looking to expand these efforts, he recently hired three new prevention outreach workers.
“They are there for everything,” David said. “They are there for when they are celebrating, they are there for when they are down. And really it’s that old school mentality of a village raising a child. Well, we just created the village.”
Based on a referral process, each outreach worker will partner with local agencies and develop bonds with 13 assigned youth at most.
Looking at Danville’s crime, property crime is on the decline but other violent crimes such as robberies and aggravated assault are starting to see an uptick.
However, Danville police say these numbers are still historically low compared to the past 30 years.
Therefore, outreach efforts now could help save young people at their most vulnerable times.
“That way we protect these youths and their families before they find themselves facing potential criminal charges or worse losing their life,” Capt. Richard Chivvis with Danville Police said.
David said working with families is key so young people won’t revert back to their old ways.
“If [a young person] comes home and they are struggling with food or they are struggling with housing and those struggles become the young man’s struggles,” David said. “Then he has to do what he feels what is necessary to be a man.”
David said 14 young people joined the program three weeks ago.