Norfolk growing adult, after-school programs to combat community violence

Posted at 11:23 PM, Apr 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-20 10:03:14-04

NORFOLK, Va. - A shooting involving a 15-year-old girl in the Diggs Town neighborhood was just one violent crime that recently put Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority properties in the spotlight.

It is something Julius Norman has seen firsthand, not just as Workforce Development Manager for NRHA, but from growing up in the public housing community Calvert Square.

However, he says he has also seen what happens when parents and their kids get involved.

"I would be crazy to sit here and tell you we don't have problems in the community, we do, but I just think we need to show parents the positive part about it," says Julius Norman. "We've got parents that have given up and have thrown their hands up because they don't know how to always access the resources that are available and that's why we're here."

Norman says NRHA revamped the Calvert Square Family Investment Center, located right in the Calvert Square community, back in December.

During the day, it now hosts workforce development programs for adults living in any of the NRHA communities.

In the afternoon, it hosts different after-school programs run by volunteers. The students must have a certain GPA and complete their homework before participating.

NRHA is also partnered with other groups, such as African American Male Focus, to bring in mentors for the children.

"To be good examples, to say things that will make a little guy say, 'I want to be like him,'" says Clarence Nelson, a volunteer. "We think it's working. Nothing works at the tempo you want it to work, but, it's better than nothing."

Nelson is also chairing the Youth Mentors' Conference which is from April 27-30 at the Virginia Beach Conference Center. The goal is to teach people how to be mentors, and how those future mentors can teach others to join them.

Norman believes the more the residents in NRHA communities realize what they are doing, the better off the communities will be.

"We do have problems, but we do have things in which we are doing to counterbalance the negative activities and it's catching on."

For more information on the Youth Mentors' Conference, call Clarence Nelson at 757-621-8713.