New initiative a parternship of community organizations

Published 10:08 am Friday, October 13, 2017

A new initiative aims to improve the community by strengthening family ties and reducing community risk factors.

This new program was officially announced Tuesday and will take advantage of a variety of community resources including Troup Transformation, the LaGrange Police Department, Greater Achievement Youth Empowerment Academy, Department of Community Supervision, CAFI, Circles of Troup County, The Artisan Group, Communities in Schools and Discovering Soldiers’ Potential. The leaders of these groups hope that together they can instigate positive change in the lives of young people throughout the community.

“We are unpacking a program with seven different organizations, and it is called ACTION, A Collaborating Team Impacting Our Communities, and it does just that,” said Dr. Glenn Dowell, the program liason. “What we are looking at is, we have a program called a Blueprint for Leadership.”

Dowell has already worked to help young people reach toward a better future with his nonprofit organization, Greater Achievement Youth Empowerment Academy, Inc., but Blueprint for Leadership and other programs that are expected to be revealed in the future will take that progress to a new level.

“I like to think that we are covering the whole spectrum on preparing young people to be better individuals, become leaders and to show that any young person can be a leader if properly directed,” Dr. Robert Tucker said. “We are going to be working very seriously with that, and Dr. Dowell brought and put together a program that really blew me away when I first looked at it.”

Tucker — one of the leaders of the Callumet Neighborhood revitalization efforts — was not the only one impressed by the possible impact of the collaboration though. The community leaders in attendance all seemed to agree that together, they will be able to have a greater impact on the community than ever before.

“We are all working together for the same purpose,” said Wanda Walker of Troup Transformation. “There’s a synergy when you work together. We can accomplish more and service more of our community and do it more effectively.”

Blueprint for Leadership will be an interactive, all-intentional program focusing on character and civic education. According to Dowell, the program is designed to assist youth in becoming future leaders by empowering them with skills essential for developing strong moral character.

“This program focuses not only on the child or the individual, but on the family,” Tucker said. “The family will have to attend these sessions. I think we have about a 16-hour session where families come in, and they role play and do activities to show the value of family play in the development of children, youth. I am just very happy with that.”

The LaGrange Police Department is working closely with the initiative in hopes that by helping local youth gain access to the resources that they need, the community will over time see lower crime rates.

“Early prevention is the key, and so what we look to do is work with the various resources in the community is to find the right combination for that child,” Chief Lou Dekmar said. “We can’t go out and do group stuff because that change occurs one child at a time. It may be a teacher. It may be a police officer. It may be a mentor. It may be a coach, but by focusing those various resources in a way that concentrates on our most vulnerable, at risk young people certainly pays dividends for the police department.”

Dekmar noted that increased use of community resources to help young people in the community has generally resulted in lower arrest and crime rates in the city. That desire to help local youth before they turn to crime was shared by other officials as well.

“Thirty-three years ago I moved to the City of LaGrange, and one of the reasons why I have always loved it and why I’ve stayed here ever since is the community’s attitude that together we can solve any problem,” District Attorney Pete Skandalakis said. “That is exactly what you see here. You see a community coming together. Different organizations coming together to solve a problem, and if you have been in law enforcement — like Mr. (Mark) Mitchell has and Chief Dekmar — what you know, what I’ve seen is the breakdown of the family. What we have to get back to as being instruments of the good Lord and building that family back up.

“That is what this organization is trying to do. We are trying to build the family back up. Trying to give them the steps on the ladder for a successful integration into our society because some of these kids that we are dealing with have never had that kind of strong social background, and that is what we want to do.”

The program will only work though if everyone cooperates though, said Jennifer Corcione, the executive director of the Community Action for Improvement.

“It boils down to working together and not safe guarding and having a turf war with other agencies. From that organic process, the IMPACT coalition was created,” Corcione said. “We decided to align our services with other agencies and offer better services together. When you surround yourself with like-minds and kind hearts, it’s easier to move forward and have a bigger impact.”

If everything goes as planned, that impact of this collaboration could change the course of the city itself.

“This is going to make quality of life better for all the people in LaGrange,” Tucker said.

To learn more about ACTION, contact Dowell at or call (404) 680-8244.