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The Suburbanite
  • Groups strive to end violence, build community

  • Several Canton-area groups are working together to address community issues such as crime, education and unemployment. Much of the work involves ending violence and building stronger communities.

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  • Unemployment, crime and violence, politics, education. Those are some of the issues  several community groups hope to tackle.
    At least two groups will hold separate meetings Thursday to discuss community concerns and ways to address them.
    OhioGents.org was formed in February, said local organizer John Perdue.
    “Our purpose is to reduce violence, unemployment and crime for Ohio young men,” he said.
    The group will accomplish that through educational awareness, special events, field trips and media, as its mission statement says. The mission includes promoting “cohesion and sound decision making,” Perdue said.
    OhioGents hopes to expand city-by-city throughout Ohio, said Perdue, who began his efforts in Canton “because that’s where I live.”
    Thursday’s meeting will focus on planning a strategy to address “problems in our community. We’re going to try to tie them directly to solutions ... so that we can begin to act on them,” he said.
    “There are a lot of good ideas in our community but it seems no one is pulling the trigger,” said Perdue.
    While the April 15 fatal shooting of McKinley High School sophomore Anthony L. Moore has heightened local “stop the violence” efforts, it’s not what triggered Perdue’s group.
    “But it’s opened the eyes for the greater community and is getting more people involved,” he said.
    WORKING TOWARD SOLUTIONS
    The Concerned Citizens of the African-American Community also is meeting Thursday to address issues of crime, education, politics and neighborhood concerns. The community forum is open to all, said group facilitator Stephanie Patrick, a long-time Canton City Schools educator.
    “We’re not trying to take over anybody’s separate mission or program they have going,” she said. “We just want to address the things that everybody should be concerned about and support the different groups so that we’re all coming from the same page and we’re all moving in the same direction with solutions.”
    Representatives from area clubs, organizations, churches, agencies, parents and students are encouraged to attend the forum, Patrick said. Others involved in the group are Vince Watts, president and CEO of the Greater Stark County Urban League, Canton Council members Chris Smith and Thomas West, Canton City Schools Board of Education members Ida Ross-Freeman and Lisa Gissendaner, educator Sandy Womack, the Rev. Gilbert Carter and Moniquec Conner, local NAACP president.
    Samuel Muhammad, president of PEEPS (Pursuing Enlightenment and Educating People with Solutions), said his group holds planning meetings every Tuesday “to plan our (larger) public meetings. “We want to create dialogue and plan and act to produce a healing in the community.”
    Muhammad said his group, formed last May, focuses on the black community and the “illnesses that are affecting family life.” Crime, families with absent fathers, poor graduation rates and other issues are targeted by Muhammad’s group, which tries to reach people through a door-to-door, “campaign-style” approach.
    Page 2 of 2 - Muhammad said many of the people who attend his group meetings also are involved in Patrick’s and Perdue’s groups.
    “We have no problem with there being a preponderance of groups,” he said. “That’s what (makes) change.”
    Stop violence community events
    Who: OhioGents.org - John Perdue
    What: Stop the Violence meeting
    When: 7 p.m. Thursday
    Where: Goodwill Industries of Greater Cleveland and East Central Ohio, 408 Ninth St. SW in Canton
    Who: Concerned Citizens of the African-American Community - Stephanie Patrick
    What: Community forum
    When: 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday
    Where: Edward L. Coleman Southeast Community Center in the community room, 1400 Sherrick Road SE
    Who: Community Arts Experience and Pastor Carrie Enterprises - the Rev. Carrie L. Brown
    What: Prayer vigil
    When: Noon to 2 p.m. May 5
    Where: Nimisilla Park, 1075 Mahoning Road NE
    Why: Community initiative event to “stop the violence”
    What else: A student rally and concert also is planned for May 4 at Hartford Middle School.
    Who: PEEPS (Pursuing Enlightenment and Educating People with Solutions) - Samuel Muhammad
    What: Weekly planning meetings
    When: 5 p.m. every Tuesday
    Where: DeHoff Memorial Branch of the Stark County District Library, 216 Hartford Ave. SE