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With the continued acts of violence in Pittsburgh’s Black community, such as the killing of a 5-year-old Northview Heights child asleep in his home or the two homicides in one night that occurred last week, there is a great need for anti-violence programs and more funding is what keeps them going.
Last week, One Vision One Life received the Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive Grant for its continued effort in violence prevention and reduction. The grant is for $331,025 over two years.
“This is great. The grant will help us to build upon our infrastructure, which is important. Now we can do things we need to do to make our program better,” said Richard Garland, executive director of One Vision One Life. “It will allow us to hire more people and tighten up things we are already doing in the community.”
The grant is a federal grant and part of the stimulus package. It was shared with 20 other organizations and will allow the compensation of three current community coordinators and the hiring of three additional ones.
One Vision One Life is a nonprofit organization that began in 2003 as a part of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services’ Violence Prevention, Reduction and Intervention initiative. The organization is known for their candlelight vigils that are held for those who have lost their lives to acts of violence, bringing awareness to this issue that is plaguing our community.
Marc Cherna, director of the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, says that the issue of violence is a serious one in our area and that the work that One Vision One Life is doing is good and they are making an impact in dealing with this important issue. He added some programs cannot do what they want to do due to a lack of funding. He is glad that One Vision One Life will be able to have the resources they need.
Not only is the organization proactive in its efforts to reduce violence by bringing awareness to the issue, but also with its efforts in prevention and intervention. The coordinators have cases where they keep in contact with individuals in areas where violence occurs. They talk to them and try to help them get the resources and tools needed to find jobs and housing.
“We help them to deal with their situations so that they will not turn to violence or situations that could lead to violence.” For example, they keep people from turning to drugs as a source of income, which is one of the leading causes of violent acts in our city.
“We have guys that are willing to give back and are making a contribution. They are guys that were once part of the problem, but are now becoming part of the solution, “ Garland said.
He said that although the number of violent crimes have been reduced over the years, “No matter what, one death is too many.”
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