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Lansing non-profit opens despite COVID-19 to combat youth violence

Published: Sep. 11, 2020 at 3:53 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A non-profit started to combat youth violence in the city of Lansing is preparing to open its doors in the middle of a pandemic.

When you live your life by an old African proverb, it’s only fitting that one day you go on to create a village of your own.

“It takes a village to raise a family or raise a kid,” said Michael Lynn Jr.

That’s why after the shooting in Ferris Park in 2019 that left 17-year-old Taijion Gant dead and two others shot, Michael and his wife Erica Lynn decided to do something about it. They got together with a host of community partners and turned their anger and frustration over the violence in Lansing into the creation of the The Village Lansing.

The Village is a community resource center that offers youth mentoring and will focus on education, life skills, and the arts. They are hoping it will be a space for young people to stay out of trouble.

“These kids aren’t out here just being bad kids. They aren’t just bad kids. You figure out what it is that is going on that is making them make the choices that they’re making and you start there,” said Erica.

They decided to continue moving ahead with the creation of the non-profit despite COVID-19 pausing many of their plans.

“We were getting ready to have a meeting with Gardner Middle School. So we were excited, and then the pandemic started happening. I think within two weeks of all of this, everything shut down. So it was like we had to stop and regroup and really think how are we going to do this,” said Erica.

Despite the struggles, they say they’re not willing to give up on the city they were born and raised in.

“Lansing is not too far gone,” said Erica.

“We don’t want any kid or any person for that matter to succumb to gun violence at all. So we gotta do something. We have to put something in play,” said Michael.

Lansing police say they have seen a spike in the number of shootings in the Capital City this summer.

The Village plans to open their doors to the public in October. However, they plan on following current COVID-19 guidelines by having 10 people allowed in the space at a time. The project is largely community-funded. They are still looking for additional donations and grants to put finishing touches on the building like a outdoor sign and four computers.

To find out more about The Village, click here.

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