CINCINNATI — Just steps away from the Westwood spot where two young boys were shot over the summer, orange-clad Urban League workers spent Thursday on a familiar errand: Walking, talking and attempting to change lives affected by neighborhood violence.
Their orange shirts mark them as community outreach advocates, a group that works directly with Cincinnati communities to address the issues that contribute to crime before a gun ever goes off.
“If we can get one or two to make a right turn instead of a left turn, that helps out the community as well as themselves, their families,” said community outreach advocate Dorron Hunter.
People in Cincinnati recognize them, Hunter added, and feel comfortable discussing their lives.
That’s exactly the goal, according to Dorothy Smoot, who leads the Urban League’s community police partnering center: To become part of the neighborhood.
“If there's a shooting or a homicide in a community, they know the community outreach advocates,” she said. “They know that they're there to provide them with resources."
Westwood team leader Giovanni Crawford said he’s placed a greater emphasis this summer on interacting with young teens.
“Some of them feel hopeless and helpless at times,” he said.
But he’s hopeful, and he wants people in Westwood to be, too. Help is there, he said. All you have to do is look for the orange.
“It can save a life,” he said. “Just one conversation, one opportunity, one resource. It can change a life.”