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Pastor starts mentoring program for at-risk youth

– Carlton Lynch was getting tired of homicide scenes.

More than that, he was tired of seeing a common thread at each one when he began visiting such scenes, typically on the city’s southeast side, this year: A bunch of young people loitering around indifferent to a body lying in the street or yard nearby.

One time this year, he said he even saw some very young kids playing, running and laughing down the street from a killing.

“That shouldn’t be normal,” said the pastor of New Beginnings Church, which regularly meets at the Urban League at Hanna Street and Creighton Avenue.

During a news conference Thursday at Summit City Chevrolet on Illinois Road, Lynch unveiled a new program aimed at helping young people early.

Long before they can get caught up in a lifestyle that could lead to them being one of those homicide victims. Or even someone who commits those homicides.

“I’M HOOD,” which stands for Helping Others Obtain Destiny, is designed to give high school-aged boys a mentor this summer.

Lynch said the program is accepting applications and that four kids have already been selected to take part in the program. It will probably max out at 10 boys, Lynch said.

The program will allow boys to have mentors from June 8 through Aug. 16 who will give them activities to do and keep them busy. It will include trips to cities such as Chicago and Atlanta.

There, Lynch hopes to show boys other young people from similar urban environments who have avoided trouble.

“We’re trying everything we can to reach young people,” Lynch said.

John Garcia, owner of Summit City Chevrolet, presented Lynch with a $1,000 check to help pay for the program.

Lynch said he and others involved in the mentoring program will be going to various businesses in the next few weekends to raise more money.

He said his goal is to raise a minimum of $10,000 through a grass-roots campaign, where “a lot of people give a little.”

Lynch also said he hopes to begin another mentoring program in the future for girls.

For more information on the program, call Lynch at 267-6487 and 247-0586 or email pastorlynch@hotmail.com.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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