Boys & Girls Club serves as ‘a safe haven’ from increasing violence in Youngstown

Local News

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – There was an increase in violence over the weekend in the city of Youngstown. Two shootings happened within 24 hours of each other, less than a mile apart.

The first shooting happened around 2:30 a.m. Sunday at Miss Daisy’s Place on South Avenue. Two women, ages 20 and 33, and a 24-year-old man were shot inside. At this point, police have not made any arrests.

The Youngstown Police Department then responded to a call of a young man getting shot in the head while pumping gas. It happened on Sunday around 10 p.m. at the Gateway Gas Mart, also on South Avenue. The coroner hasn’t released the 17-year-old’s name yet, but we will be working to find out more details. No arrests have been made either.

The age of homicide victims in Youngstown is getting younger and younger. So far this year, there have been 17 homicides. Sunday night’s was the sixth homicide victim this year who is under the age of 20 and the ninth under 25.

However, there is a place that almost serves as a safe haven for children in the area — away from the streets. The Boys and Girls Club on the south side offers mentorship programs, educational programs and much more. It’s an alternative place for kids to have fun and just be kids.

“The Boys and Girls Club is a crucial, I guess, resting place for people to come,” said Jim Bird, CEO/executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Youngstown. “A place to decompress from all of the things that go on that you can’t control.”

Bird said the club is a positive place for children and that they can go there knowing it’s going to be a different experience than what they may have in their neighborhoods.

“We just provide. It’s just [what] we do here. We provide, we help out and we show them the right path instead of the wrong path,” said Camerie Evans, a youth development professional.

Evans has been going to the Boys and Girls Club for about three years now and believes the club serves as a place of shelter for young people. A place to just get away from the streets.

“These children who may have been right next door to that house burning down or might have known somebody who got shot or heard the gunfire can come here and know that it’s going to be an all sort of different experience for them,” Bird said.

The Boys and Girls Club offers various programs for children from elementary school to high school.

Many of the kids who attend the Boys and Girls Club said that everyone is welcome and it’s a great way to escape the violence or the trauma that has been occurring.

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