13 May 2009

A plea for help

Everywhere I go this week, it comes up: the crossfire killing of 9-year-old Ciara Savage in York on Mother's Day. This tragedy has reverberated through York County like a news event seldom does. And it demands action. Earlier this month, Penn State York held a gang summit, and some powerful speakers made the case that York County needs to find ways to keep our kids safe. But all of their eloquence and passion couldn't come close to making the point the way this senseless death does. And this single incident is tied into a whole range of other issues that stand in the way of making York County a better place to live: improving educational opportunities; providing safe community places for at-risk youth; creating good-paying, family-sustaining jobs that lift people out of poverty; and establishing more affordable housing opportunities across the county.

But on the most basic level, I'll say it again: We need to keep our kids safe. How are we going to do it? The time has passed for letting the passionate volunteers on the gang-prevention coalition try to figure it out by themselves. That group will likely be the leader in developing a broad response, and its next meeting is at 8 a.m. Friday in Penn State York's Conference Center. To join that effort, call Beth Gill-MacDonald at 495-7267 or send e-mail to bxg5@aol.com.

On Sunday, a unity march will bring two sets of marchers to Continental Square: one coming down Duke Street from Crispus Attucks, the other coming down Beaver Street from the Jefferson Center.

On Monday, Safer York, York's Weed and Seed anti-crime program, will host a public forum at Community Progress Council. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at CPC, 226 E. College Ave., York.

The work won't end there. In the days and months ahead, the entire community needs to be involved, from the family in Dover to the cop on the street in Shrewsbury to the business owner in Hanover. In 10 years, will we be able to say this was a turning point? Will we be able to say we finally started dealing with the problems of poverty and gangs, as well as the cycle of violence they perpetuate?

We all have to ask ourselves: What can I do to help?

- Dan Fink


Joel Sears said...

What can we do? We can start by knocking down the barriers between citizens of the greater York area known as "townships" and "school districts". As artificial as these boundaries are, they've allowed us to separate the vast majority of us from "the problem". Until we all have more skin in the game, nothing of substance will happen.

YorkCounts said...

Joel, that's a great way to put it. I think there are signs that some of those barriers are beginning to slip away. The school districts seem to be all aware of the gang problem. We have nine municipalities working together to see if there might be a better way to provide police services. There are other examples. Maybe it takes something like this tragedy for people to ante up. - Dan

Anonymous said...

People do work monday at 9am..... Another wonderful idea brought to you by one million dollars of federal grant money!

YorkCounts said...


I'm not sure what point you're tryig to make. I'd say anybody who wanted to leave work for two hours to participate in this particular meeting probably wouldn't get too much trouble from their employer. I think most employers encourage that kind of community involvement. I don't have any hard local data to support that, it's just my sense.