Mentorship program aims to end youth violence in Augusta

Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 6:21 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - A recent spike in violent crimes prompted us to look at how many homicides we’ve had in the area this year and how many suspects were arrested.

We have those numbers along with what members of the community are doing to try and reduce crime in Augusta.

From our records, since Jan. 8, there have been 49 people killed in the CSRA. Thirty-two suspects in those murders.

Within the last two weeks of gun violence, four victims were Black male teenagers. A local fraternity is making it their mission to not only stop the violence but to make a powerful impact in the lives of every young man in the CSRA.

“If you don’t have a father, they can be a father figure too, and they are just like a father to me,” said LaFredick Gilchrist, Omega Lamplighter.

Gilchrist is a mentee of Omega Lamplighter. He describes it as a brotherhood making him into the man he is today.

“I joined it when I was about 16. It transformed and molded my life,” he said.

Omega Lamplighter is a nonprofit mentorship program created by the members of the Upsilon Gamma Gamma Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Incorporated.

Their mission…

Omega Psi Phi Inc. Earl L. Eubanks said: “We want to make our young men great. We are working on that young man by young man.”

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Eubanks says it takes a village to accomplish that mission. From law enforcement, judges, and financial advisors-leaders from all over the community come together to show young men there is more to life than the streets.

Omega Psi Phi Inc. Cadrekaus O’Neal said: “We see a lot of ourselves in these kids because those kids that are out there getting into mischief, causing trouble, they were all of us. It wasn’t until gentlemen like us stepped in and learned how to challenge that anger and learned how to challenge that creativity into something positive.”

The program has more than 30 boys in classes about principles of leadership, academics, maturity, and perseverance, along with community service and trips to tours outside of Augusta.

Eubanks said: “Our kids need to see something different. Our kids are not our future. Our kids are our present.”

Members also use their life experiences to inspire and relate to the younger generation.

O’Neal said: “I was one of those trouble kids. I was one of those young kids running with the gangs, fighting, and it wasn’t until I met two Omega members that pulled me under their wings, gave me the proper mentorship, and taught me the way and turned my life around.”

The program meets every first and third Saturday for classes and community service.

For more information, Omega Lamplighter.