Guardian Angels come to Vicksburg
Published 12:00 am Monday, December 22, 2008
Perhaps most widely known for their red berets and street patrols through tough neighborhoods, the Guardian Angels are known less for the children’s and teens’ programs that Tony McElroy would like to establish in Vicksburg.
“It’s all about having a relationship with the youth in our neighborhoods and helping them be more positive — showing them how to be more constructive than destructive,” said McElroy.
Saturday, McElroy was host for a community meet-and-greet party at his Martha Street home with members of the Jackson Guardian Angels program in hopes of recruiting local volunteers and establishing a Vicksburg chapter. Bennie Jones, who founded the Jackson chapter in 1982 and was in Vicksburg on Saturday, said establishing a chapter locally will take cooperation from the public as well as support from the city government and police force.
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“If we meet with the neighbors, and the Guardian Angels is something they want to support and see in Vicksburg, then the next step would be setting up a meeting with the city council and chief of police to get their support,” said Jones.
McElroy and Jones both said they do not anticipate street patrols would be a large part of what a Vicksburg chapter of the Guardian Angels would aim to achieve. Instead, McElroy said he is interested in establishing a local chapter to allow children and adolescents to benefit from the group’s Junior Guardian Angels and Urban Guardian Angels programs. Available for children ages 7 through 16, the junior and urban angels programs provide educational seminars and a variety of activities. Jones said a local chapter would definitely need donated space to operate.
“A lot of people just think of doing patrols, but we do many other things to get children involved in positive activities and help senior citizens. That’s what we’re really going to focus on in Vicksburg,” said Jones.
Vicksburg Police Chief Tommy Moffett said he would welcome the chance to sit down with the group.
“I have heard of them doing some good things in communities,” he said. “The only way you could be effective in police work is having the assistance of community. Any group that is pro-community is something that I think could work.”
The Jackson chapter of the Guardian Angels has 15 members and five in training, said Jones. Training includes learning basic first aid and CPR, search and rescue methods and martial arts. While the basic training required to become a Guardian Angel takes recruits about three months, Jones said many people chose to continue their martial arts and safety training beyond what is mandated.
Jones is also working to establish a chapter in Meridian, and recently got a chapter operational in Gulfport.
Contact Steve Sanoski at email@example.com.
About the Guardian Angels
Founded in New York City by Curtis Sliwa in 1979, Guardian Angels is a non-profit, volunteer organization that conducts public safety and education programs. The organization has grown into an international alliance of volunteers, with chapters in 136 cities throughout 14 countries in the world. Chapters in Mississippi include Jackson, which was launched in 1982, and Gulfport. Along with providing street patrols and neighborhood watches, the Guardian Angels support the Junior Guardian Angels, an early-prevention program for children ages 7 through 11. The Urban Guardian Angels program provides anti-gang and anti-drug activities for teens ages 12 through 16 through a club environment. The Guardian Angels also operate a Role Model Academy and CyberAngels, an Internet safety group launched in 1995 to protect children and teens from online predators. More information and volunteer opportunities at www.guardianangels.org.