Washington D.C. – Members of the Youth Advocate Programs (YAP), Inc. Board of Directors meeting in Washington, D.C. this month received a briefing from area employees of the nonprofit who are engaged in high profile violence prevention work.
YAP is a national nonprofit in 33 states and Washington, D.C. better known for its partnerships with youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, and other systems to provide community-based alternatives to youth incarceration and congregate residential placements. In the past five years, YAP has also implemented public safety initiatives in partnership with local governments to help curb neighborhood violence. As part of a gathering to recognize outgoing members, YAP’s Board invited employees engaged in violence prevention work to share their experiences.
YAP National Violence Prevention Director Fred Fogg provided an overview of YAP’s credible messenger
programs. Maryland-D.C. Regional Director Craig Jernigan introduced members of four YAP Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Violence Prevention programs along with a couple of program participants. YAP’s teams are led by credible messengers, many of whom, like YAP Violence Prevention program participants, have served time in prison.
YAP Program Coordinator Charles Bentil spoke about joining YAP about three years ago after learning of the nonprofit’s core youth justice, child welfare, behavioral health, and other systems partnerships to provide alternatives to incarceration and congregate residential placements.
He introduced Anthony, whom he began working with about two years ago when he was about to leave prison to re-enter the community. Anthony shared how Bentil’s support has strengthened his family relationships and helped him find employment and connections to resources as he pursues a music career, and re-entry services. Larry, another YAP program participant praised the organization for connecting him to his job, “which is now full-time and comes with benefits,” he said.
Eyone Williams, who began working as a YAP violence interrupter with one of the nonprofit’s Washington, D.C. programs spoke of how rewarding it is to give back after being incarcerated at 16 years-old in federal (adult) prison for 18 years. YAP Baltimore Advocate Tim Rich, also founder of the R.I.C.H. program, spoke of the fulfillment of helping young people turn their lives around. As a YAP Advocate, Rich connects young people to tools to help them see their strengths while ensuring that their families have resources to firm their foundation.
Irene Conway, who works with one of YAP’s Baltimore Violence Prevention programs, spoke of her former life and shared a moving story about a program participant who after a violent incident was left severely injured. This story is withholding details to protect the program participant’s privacy.
She connected the individual with medical and basic needs resources and is working to connect the family with other tools to set them on a positive path without retaliation.
As part of the event, the board recognized outgoing members Lynette M. Brown-Sow, Vivian Sanks-King, Fran Lanigan and Randolph Stone for their years of service.
During their time together in Washington, D.C., Board Chair Teddy Reese presented members Janet Lincoln and Clarence Campbell with Leading by Example awards.