As children searched for Easter eggs on Friday in McMillan Park, it was hard to imagine that, just last week, three people were fatally shot in the same area.
Jeminskian J. Arvie, 20, David Jermaine Galmore, 23, and Fitzgerald Tremayne Guillory, 20, were killed March 20 at the park near the Sunlight Manor Apartments.
To bring a positive light back to the area, local ministers and community members hosted the all-day Good Friday at Sunlight Manor & McMillan Park event.
Organizers Paul Pettefer and Braylon Harris said they wanted the event to not only bring back some joy to the area, but also be the beginning of other programs and initiatives to guide local youths.
Willie King Jr., a local leader in helping troubled youths, said adults need to start taking responsibility to guide young children and prevent them from ending up in negative situations.
“We’re just a small part of a larger group of people,” he said. “A community cannot sustain itself without positive engagement and re-engagement.”
Harris, pastor of Mount Olive Baptist Church, said that, when they began planning the Good Friday event, he wanted to leave a lasting impression on both the children and the adults. He said it was a day to let people know there are programs such as Leader in Me and Stop the Madness that are there to support children who are struggling in life.
The pair said they also were able to enlist the help of area agencies and organizations to offer counseling sessions at the park’s community center following the egg hunt and fish fry.
“Good Friday is not an end; it’s a means to different results and various different possibilities,” he said. “We hope that everyone that has anything positive can engage the community positively.”
Throughout the day adults also helped young people build three benches in remembrance of the young men who died. Children helped cut the wood, hammer the nails and paint.
Pettefer said this project was about forming closer relationships with the young people and getting to know them more. He said that, by helping construct these benches, in the future they can see something positive they created together.
“We want to create a lifestyle that supports the growth that will really turn the tide on this decay we have,” Pettefer said. “Events don’t create change, events create an opportunity and ... we want to be the people who champion that cause.”