Youth and mentoring nonprofit hosts community support meeting

Published 12:41 pm Saturday, January 13, 2024

ELVTD Youth and Mentoring, Inc. hosted a community support meeting Wednesday at the LaGrange Memorial Library with speakers, Kamenia Griffin, Crossroads Treatment Centers counselor, and Haley Beckham, security risk group coordinator of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

ELVTD Youth and Mentoring is a non-profit organization founded in December 2023 by Nick Griffin,  site coordinator for the Community in Schools, and was created to serve the youth of Troup County. The group meets 2-3 times a week to discuss varying topics pertaining to real-world experiences. The initial segment of their Jan. 10 meeting centered around the importance of mental health and self-care with presentations given on how to build emotional intelligence and navigate difficult situations. 

“I think it’s very important to teach these skills because the youth usually don’t get taught these things from their parents, and they definitely don’t get taught them in school,” Griffin said. “What I provide helps the parent and the child. Last week, we talked about the importance of just building communication between parents and their children.”

Beckham’s speech focused on the dangers of gang violence and the damage it leaves in the community. 

Beckham has been serving with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice for over 15 years and has taken her passion to the streets, touring the state of Georgia to inform communities about the terrors of gang activity among the youth.

“What I think that we’re lacking in law enforcement and outreach, is we’re not reaching the youth and finding out why they want to be in gangs right now,” Beckham said. “We have the information from the past decade, and if researchers are saying the youth are different now, then we need to figure out why gang violence is still something that our kids are continuing to be involved in.”

Referring to a case that happened in June 2023 in Brunswick, Beckham told the story of a 16-year-old, who was tragically shot and killed outside of his home due to an unidentified gang of criminals mistaking him for his brother. Ellis’ case remains unsolved to this day. Beckham explained to the group how gang violence can affect everyone in the community, including those who choose not to participate in gangs.

“A lot of times kids will be forgotten because they’ll be considered a good kid, right,” Beckham said. “The one who doesn’t make a fuss and doesn’t get in trouble at school. However, that doesn’t mean that they’re not struggling to deal with the environments in their household and in their community, and they might need assistance on how to make the right choices in life.” 

Closing her presentation, Beckham recalled a case she had studied about an unnamed young man who had fallen through the cracks of the juvenile justice system resulting in him receiving a prison life sentence. Throughout the presentation, Beckham insisted on the importance of making sure each child receives a fair chance to make choices for the betterment of their future despite their past.

“I’m very passionate about this, and I think that if I can spark a passion, or interest in anyone else to help me, we can help the community,” Beckham said. “Every kid matters. No matter what they’ve done, they can always choose to make a better choice.”