Pastor, Harris, “Well, I’ll answer, I’ll try to answer. I’ll try to answer your question. There are some of us who are out on the streets. There are some of us who are involved in the community. There are some of us who are really concerned about the welfare of our community and our children.
One of the things that I do find out is that I have to throw some things back on you. You ask to us where we are. Where were you? You send your children to us for maybe two, three hours a day. We only have the time to mentor them while we are in the confines of this district. We try to teach them morally. We try to reach them spiritually. We even teach them on a level of being brothers and sisters.
We know we can’t reach everybody. But the ones that we can reach we do. Some of us are in the trenches trying to save our children, your children. And when they hurt we hurt. Some of you don’t know that up on Coates Street; I have many children that come to me for community service. And I teach every last one of them, whether they’re black children or white children. I tell them it takes 10 seconds to make a better choice. But I can’t be mom and dad to them 24 hours a day. That’s not my job. That’s our job. That’s your job. They’re your children too. So we can’t start blaming the church for everything that goes on in the community.
I’m a retired school teacher too. And I’ve had children in my class that I took the authority over my classroom whether they were white kids or black kids. I told my principal the first day she hired me; if you want to fire me now fire me. Because I’ll be doggone if I’ll allow any kids to stand up to my face. I didn’t let my kids do it and I won’t let anybody else’s children do it.
We've let down our guard! Hello somebody!
We as parents have let down our guard. So when I drive up and down Coates Street in the streets of Coatesville and I’ve watched teenagers 14 and 15 years of age running the street, passing every curb. Where are your parents?
So my brothers and sisters I’m saying this to you. Try not so much in defense but in love to you; we’ve got to get a better handle on our children. And we can’t blame the police department for things that are happening in our city because we’re not taking charge of our own children. (Applause) Hello somebody. And when we start working together; we can make a difference in the City of Coatesville if we bond together.
Let’s not wait for a crisis to occur and then to come together. Let me share with you in just ten seconds what happened this morning. I was at a prayer breakfast in Downingtown and before we got ready to leave that area, I whispered to the Pastor… I said Pastor, the Lord just revealed something to me. A year ago it was the fire and God brought this whole community together. I sat at a table and I said, what happens after the fires are over, then what? You know what happened; we went back to our separate ways. You went that way, we went that way, you went that way. And so, God is doing it again. He’s trying to bring our community back together, one more time.
And so it’s going to take every entity of the City, whether you are black or white, whether you live in a rich neighborhood or a not so rich neighborhood. It’s going to take all of us together. And so we can’t sit here today and put the blame on this Lieutenant or put the blame on Lieutenant Canale or put the blame on Rita Shesko. We can’t do that. It starts here with all of us, it starts with us.
I listen to this good man Mr. Suber talk about the car that was being driven throughout our City. I listen to somebody, somewhere else say why couldn’t somebody just talk to this young kid and stop him.
We are afraid. We are afraid to talk to boys and girls who are younger than we are.
Pastor Harris, “We step back.”
Pastor Harris, “We allow them to do whatever they want to do.”
Pastor Harris, “I don’t know why. I don’t know why. Because they can be afraid to step on somebody, well that’s not my child, that’s her child it doesn’t do for the tip of my face because I chastise you’re children. And that’s part of the problem.
So go ahead in Faith. Thank you so much. We are trying to make some headway and leeway on where we’re going from here. Amen”
Man, “You talked of the fire last year and everything stopped with the fire situation and that’s what the people are afraid of when this incident happened. When the fire stopped but justice was not served when the fire stopped.”
Pastor Harris, “Well regardless about that, we thank God that the fire did stop and bring about all of us to come together for a time; such as it was.”
Lieutenant Shesko, “I just want to comment a minute on the gentleman’s question about where were the Police. The Police have established a tradition, I don’t know if everyone is familiar with Detective Pauly. But he’s very active. He does football, he does baseball and they have a cheerleading team. He is one person.
We have people volunteer. We ask for volunteers from the community. We also educated an officer full time for Community/Police Relations. He’s been very active in the community going to Town Watch Meetings, organizing the children in Elmwood Gardens. He can reach out to people through Weed and Seed. Please feel free to contact us if you would like to join us in these volunteer programs for your children. We welcome volunteerism.
The problem is volunteerism has been nonexistent. We would like to get to bond the community with the Police Department to work together for these children. We are trying to get a full time PAL program up and running, with mentoring programs, the after school programs, and public programs.
We need volunteers. So please feel free to contact me or Detective Pauly and we’ll see what we can do to work together.”
“Could I answer to that, Hello, I’m Allen Smith. I am the Weed and Seed Coordinator. I work directly with Lieutenant Shesko and pursuant to what she said; she is not just pulling a rabbit out of the hat. If you go to: http://www.coatesvillehappenings.org/ there’s a strategic plan which addresses many Weed and Seed oriented mentoring programs that work in conjunction with PAL. After about two years of assessment, we’ve already talked to the community; the community spoke, they’ve already spoke to us and told us that we need more opportunity to become mentors. In specific we are so grateful to be funded in this competitive grant funding cycle.
We will be looking for ten families. Ten at risk families to personally sponsor within an out of school time enhanced mentoring program which will assist PAL. As Lieutenant Shesko already spoke about, Detective Pauly mentors about 600 kids. But, currently our PAL programs our football program and baseball programs are kind of like a drop-off. But we’re going to be asking parents to get involved. We are going to be asking parents to come forward and become trained as mentors so we can lower that mentor ratio from about fifteen kids to one to about maybe three kids to one. When your kids see you, at their football games and their baseball games then they’re really going to perform. And we’re going to see less of the (bad) behaviors and more of the performance that is going to make our community proud.
It’s http://www.coatesvillehappenings.org/ there is a synopsis on our recent strategic plan concerning mentors.”
Reverend Dr. James Smith, “Let me ask you a question. “How long has this program been in existence and how much participation do you have in the community?”
Allen Smith, “Currently, the PAL program has been in existence for a long time.”
Dr. Smith, “I’m talking about Coatesville.”
Allen Smith, “The Weed and Seed Program, since 2002.”
Dr. Smith, “Wow”
Allen Smith, “The current strategic mission being youth focused is just under two years old. The first two years an assessment the new strategic plan just being formed. We’re hoping that the funding will get enhancement and underway this year.”
Dr. Smith, “And parent and men participation specifically.”
Allen Smith, “Yes, sir”
Dr. Smith, “How much of that do you have at this point?”
Allen Smith, “It is the focal point of it and we have action items that will feature us going door to door with announcements as well as traditional means of notification.
Pastor Harrris, “Let me finish this; let me do this my brothers and Reverend Smith, if you don’t mind dialoging about the Weed and Seed, after this.
I want to get to this and I have two more questions and then maybe we could bring the meeting to a close.”