Organization starts social movement in Charleston to stop gun violence

An organization in Charleston is looking to combat gun violence in the city.
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 5:42 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 27, 2022 at 3:35 AM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - An organization in Charleston is looking to combat gun violence in the city.

Personnel with the Fresh Start Self-Improvement Center are launching a social movement called “Save Our Community” equipped with survey inputs from the residents and focus groups throughout the community.

The focus groups will enable community leaders and residents to discuss what programs and activities to implement in the city.

These group meetings will focus on local business representatives, church leaders, educators/administrators/high school students, law enforcement/first responders, community members and service agencies.

“Once this focus group is done and we retrieve that information from the focus group, that gives us a better idea in how we want to sustain a project and eradicate gun violence within our community,” Fresh Start Self-Improvement Center Executive Director Lester Gillespie said.

Gun violence has been an ongoing issue throughout the United States which includes communities in the Heartland such as Charleston.

Gillespie said they will have other organizations and agencies working alongside one another to get to the root of the issue and remedy solutions to help stop gun violence in their community.

“That will give us the opportunity for everyone to be informed about the situation,” Gillespie said. “As we go forward, we will have the whole entire community on board.”

Gillespie said they handed out 315 surveys to random people throughout the community. Since then, they have received those results which gave them a better idea where everyone stands on how to approach the next steps.

“One of the results was that women between the ages of 25 and 45, they were the most insecure individually in the community as related to gun violence,” Gillespie said. “Part of that is because they have children and they have sons and daughters that live in the community and they’re probably were fearful that they would just come in the line of gunfire.”

The City of Charleston has had gun violence incidents recently, which is something the community there has seen enough of according to Gillespie.

“We are at a point now where I think that the momentum is on our side to try to eradicate this,” Gillespie said. “People are tired of seeing family members dying. Also, the fact that we were all raised together. This is a bedroom community, so everybody knows everybody. When these things happen, it not only impacts the individual that got shot but it impacts the person who is getting incarcerated.”

One area Gillespie mentioned that would help reduce violence would be to bring more post high school opportunities to the area such as educational activities along with help in guiding individuals on a career path.

“We can put some things into play to assist with that like try to find ways to get people involved in other activities such as learning activities and vocational activities,” Gillespie said. “Whether it be trying to get them prepared for a good job, working closely with our schools so that these kids will have a second step after graduating high school.”

Individuals with the Fresh Start Self-Improvement Center plan on starting with an educational focus group in the community soon.

For more information about the organization, you can find their Facebook page here. https://www.facebook.com/freshstartSIC

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