‘Be nice to each other’: Crime discussion focuses on student mentorship program | Local

“Things have to change,” the Reverend Felix C. Anderson said Tuesday.

Anderson, the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Woodford, called on a host of clergy and other community members to join a movement to transform Orangeburg County.

“Transformation is more than just change. The transformation takes a different form,” he said.

Anderson spoke at a meeting held to discuss crime in Orangeburg County and beyond.

The focus of the meeting was education and how citizens and faith-based organizations can invest in the lives of Orangeburg County students through a mentoring initiative called “One Child, One Chance.”

Local NAACP President Barbara Williams is hosting a community meeting of private citizens, county school officials, clergy and law enforcement professionals…

“If we want to make a difference, then we have to be transformed as a community,” Anderson said.

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The meeting was hosted by Orangeburg NAACP President Barbara Williams.

“We want to have a transformation process where everyone works together,” Williams said. The Orangeburg County School District, churches, economic stability officials and law enforcement are working together, she said.

OCSD Director of Student Services, Hayward R. Jean, first introduced the One Child, One Chance mentoring program to the school board a few weeks ago.

He discussed it with members of the community on Tuesday evening.

It is primarily focused on at-risk students.

The program allows selected volunteers to serve as mentors. Mentors will be subject to background checks after completing applications.

Students who wish to have mentors will also fill out applications where they can discuss hobbies and other topics that interest them.

A committee will pair mentors with students based on their shared interests.

Jean said religious congregations are encouraged to adopt schools for mentoring purposes.

“We don’t work for the check, we work for the change,” Jean said.

Those present at Tuesday’s meeting were given the opportunity to complete mentoring requests.

Jean explained that students who meet with mentors regularly are 52% less likely to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip a class.

The requirements for mentors are: make at least one phone call to their student per week, meet with the student once a month, and have significant activity with the student each year.

Jean said that a banquet for the mentors and their students will be held in May.

A recruitment effort for mentors will begin around September 27, with student applications being reviewed in early October.

Mentor training will take place in mid-October. If a mentor is unable to complete the scheduled group training, individual training will be available, Jean said.

OCSD Superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster said school district officials will visit churches to discuss the One Child, One Chance mentorship program if they choose.

Foster said the mentorship program offers “a simple approach that will pay big dividends.”

“My premise is that we leave here doing something,” he told the crowd.

Courtney Hunter doesn’t want another family to go through what she and her family have been through: the grief of losing a child to gun violence.

“That night was a nightmare,” she told the crowd.

Winston O’Conner Hunter, his 6-year-old son, was shot and killed at the home he shared with his mother, father and older brother on McClain Street in the western county town of Woodford of Orangeburg.

They had just returned home from a family reunion when shots rang out at 11:35 p.m.

“My greatest concern is that this community comes together to end gun violence so that we can have a better community, so that another mother, another brother, a family, a father no longer has to bury their young child,” she said.

She said that when she was 6, her son talked about wanting to visit other countries that he learned about in school.

“We need to get together because now my son won’t be able to do these things because of a senseless act,” she said.

In a class assignment, Winston wrote, “My dream for the world is for everyone to be nice.

Her mother said, “I need us to be nice to each other, nice to each other. And always keep that mighty name – Winston O’Conner Hunter – on these streets so they can stop gun violence.

A similar meeting will take place next month. The focus will be on law enforcement and what agencies are doing to fight crime.

The date of this meeting has not been announced.

Contact the writer: [email protected] or 803-533-5545. Follow on Twitter: @MRBrownTandD

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