On Saturday, August 26, hundreds of community members will gather at Harris Park for a day of “peace, love and fellowship” complete with food, live entertainment, basketball games, special remarks and lots of fun.
What many of those in attendance at the 2nd Annual Stop the Violence Cookout may not be aware of, however, is that this important event originated from the heart and efforts of two Statesville City employees – Geron White and Derrise Frazier.
These two members of the City’s Sanitation Division began talking at work in 2016 about the problems they saw going on in the streets of Statesville, particularly South Statesville. White, a volunteer AAU basketball coach, expressed concern about the future of his young players. Frazier agreed and said it was “time to stop the violence”.
And that’s how it began. The first Stop the Violence cookout took place last August, complete with free food, basketball games and heartfelt stories of loss loved ones through violence.
“It was a great event,” said White, “but what we asked ourselves was what happens after the cookout? What happens after we’ve brought the community together to make them aware of the problems? How do we keep our youth safe? How do we give them more activities and support?”
These questions were shared with other Sanitation co-workers. “They agreed that there’s too much turmoil,” said White, and before they knew it, they began looking for solutions.
White said there is a committee which oversees the event as well as works on ideas and projects that can help their neighborhoods. But it is the comradery that has developed between White and his colleagues that really gives him hope that things can get better.
“For me, we can have a hard day, be mad at each other, and then we start talking about the cookout and we start smiling. We’re looking forward to that day,” said White with his own big smile.
Fred Morrison, Sanitation Supervisor, is lending his support for the cookout as well. “It’s very positive to see how this came about from a conversation of two people and the significance it has made in this department … We have some rough days. The heat, storms, getting behind and it can bring about some bad attitudes. But working on this event has brought them together.”
“And they’ve made some sacrifices,” continued Morrison. “These guys are raising the money among themselves and giving it out of their own paychecks. It’s something to see.”
Because of the money they are raising, the Stop the Violence Cookout will be free. “Except for t-shirts,” said White, holding up one of the shirts that will be on sale for $10 and $12 depending on the size. “We’ll use the money from t-shirt sales to fund other events.”
There are a variety of people, churches and businesses involved in the cookout, but the flyer credits the sponsorship to “a clean street production”. When asked where the name came from, White, the driver of one of the City’s automated trash truck, smiles shyly and answers, “I thought of that.”
The whole division has rallied around the cause, and in addition to White, Frazier and Morrison, other key Sanitation Division employees involved in the cookout are: Kevin Rankins, David Mott, Sly Imes, Tony Turner, Perry Gibbs, Kenny Torrence, Kandense Adams and Eddie Boller.
ABOUT THE EVENT: Stop The Violence Cookout, Saturday, August 26, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., Harris Park, 1399 Lerain Court. Activities include a parade, singing, step show, DJ, live band, antique classic car show and motorcycle show, food (chicken, fish, hot dogs, hamburgers), basketball and inspirational comments. For more information or to help, call White at 704-929-7873.
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