On April 27, the Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) set into motion a long-time plan to impact hard struck communities throughout Stockton.
The plan takes community outreach originally performed solely in Downtown Stockton into the communities themselves, inviting the neighborhood to a community outing through flyers and canvassing from other groups such as the Peacekeepers.
The event involved a community festival thrown at Loch Lomond park in North Stockton, complete with a barbeque pit, catering by Victoria’s Taquizas, a strip of the park set aside for games of flag football, a DJ, a performance by local dancers and by Stockton Poet Laureate Tama Brisbane.
“We have events like this all the time, what we’re doing now is getting out into the community. Before, the events were centrally located, downtown.
A lot of time our events were around City Hall and Weber’s Park. What we said this is time is that were the residents are, and that’s going to continue to happen,” said Keiland Henderson, the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Office of Violence Prevention.
However, the plan involves more than a festival.
Organizers also reach out to the various community-based organizations in California, such as El Concilio, WorkNet, the Mary Magdalene Community Center, the Discover Challenge Academy and the NAACP among other organizations.
The idea was that the various CBO’s would come down and introduce representatives with members of the crowd, as well as inform the crowd on resources offered.
The resources included alcohol and drug diversion programs for those convicted of driving under the influence, tattoo removal services, information on the Alternative to Violence Program which provides lessons in conflict management, information on the rights of felons and information on enrollment with Discover Challenge Academy for high schoolers behind in credits needed to graduate.
“The intent of today’s event is to show this community some love, we feel this community has been ignored. So the big reason is to introduce the resources. We’re hosting this, so we got all the CBOs on board to come out here and let them know there’s hope and resources. One of the big things is to let the community organizations know the communities here need their help, ” said Latosha Walden, the manager of the Office of Violence Prevention.
The event was attended by a large portion of the community, all of whom had opinions on what aspect of the event was the most beneficial.
“The information is so valuable. I’m an advocate for mental health … I try to tell my families that you need to know your county’s and in order to know your country this is what you come out here to do,” said Caroline Cooper, one of those in attendance.
The OVP plans on hosting similar events across Stockton.
The OVP doens’t have a new location planned out but will make make a decision based on what community deems it requires most, said Henderson.
Henderson said the OVP hopes remaining consistent with the events in the communities in Stockton that need it the most, more members of each community will turn out and the initiative can make an impact in turning people away from violence.