Nonprofit hosts mentoring event following recent Columbia homicides
COLUMBIA - Columbia saw five homicides in September, all in a span of 12 days.
The community is doing something about it.
The 2 Real Foundation partnered with community member Erica Dickson on Saturday to host a youth mentoring event.
The event, Time 2 E.A.T. (Experience as Teachers), featured five men who have previously served time in prison.
"When I first came up with the idea, it was in response to the recent violence that has occurred in the community," Dickson, the organizer, said.
She said ex-prisoners often cannot mentor or participate in similar events through schools due to their record.
She said she wanted them to share some of the "paths [they] may have gone down that are similar to the kids in the community right now that are experiencing some trouble."
Columbia police officers, city council members, parents, children and other community members gathered in the Douglass High School auditorium to have an open conversation about community safety in an open forum.
"We had a very diverse audience today," Dickson said.
She said the most important thing is to listen to the children and allow their voices to be heard.
Attendees discussed the changes they wanted to see in the community and within each other.