August 3, 2008

Gaston Point Awakens

By Leigh Coleman, The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Miss.

Aug. 3--GULFPORT -- Residents of the Gaston Point community said they are reclaiming their neighborhood from the social ills of the area.

Hundreds gathered for a Village is Back Block Party on Saturday at the Gaston Point Community Park to celebrate an awakening.

The event is only the beginning, organizers said, as the Little Rock Missionary Baptist Church and representatives from the Gulfport YMCA are taking steps to get their kids off the street.

"This is our village and we are waking everyone up around here because this area is infested with drugs and crime," said organizer Terrie Fleming. "It is time to reclaim our children and not lose them to the crime-ridden streets," she said.

Residents enjoyed a day of gospel karaoke, touch football, kickball and grilled burgers.

More than anything, these residents said they want their children to be able to grow up in a safe neighborhood.

"The Families First YMCA outreach programs will link our resources with the community to help with this effort," said Gary Barabino of the YMCA and Gary B. Productions. "We are going to wipe out these street problems and I plan to have events with this positive message from Gulfport to Hancock County."

The Little Rock Missionary Baptist Church and the Gulfport YMCA have formed a coalition with the residents of the Gaston community to focus on a united effort for the kids.

Programs dealing with pregnancy, alcoholism and how to maintain healthy relationships are getting started at the YMCA and the church to deter youth from becoming involved in crime.

"This is all about community unity and accountability," said Fleming. "It also sends a message that if you see my child doing something bad in the streets you have my permission to correct him and call me. We want our neighborhood back the way it used to be. It really does take a village."

For information about the new coalition call Terrie Fleming at the Little Rock Missionary Baptist Church at 228-864-1255 or Greg Barabino at 228-238-4342.


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