The Woodstone Apartments located in Charlotte, N.C. was once a place inhabited by drug dealers and some oft he dregs of the area. Children who resided there learned quickly to avoid or fear the Police because of the negative impact they saw when Officers arrived.
But that has all changed. Officers there now are taking a more active role with the community after cleaning up the drug problem and are greeted warmly by the kids and residents. Everyone has benefited in the community from these efforts.
Rather than police responding to calls of murder as in 2011 or responding to juvenile subjects wearing masks who surrounded a crowded Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools bus and threatened to kill the driver, they can now respond with requests from the kids to read another story.
According to the Charlotte Observer who interviewed Rindy Kirkman the section 8 housing units property manager, consisting of 50 apartments. There has been a dramatic turn around in the quality of life for everyone in this small once forgotten community of dwellings.
“Officers don’t just read to the children, she says. They act as mentors to the kids and as friends to their parents.” She further stated “I just think that it says a lot about the police helping out like this, particularly at a time when we hear all the stories across the country of people accusing officers of not doing the right thing,”
Credit: T. Ortega Gaines
About 10 officers have volunteered to go to the Apartments to read and play with the kids, act as a mentor and get involved with the community there. In the fall it is hoped by Lt. Thornton that the Officers will be able to expand the program to help the kids with homework.
Parents of the children are also very appreciative of the efforts of Officers. Kansas Payne, is a mother of five who lives in the apartments and has seen the effects first hand says her children are benefiting from the partnerships, including her 17-year-old son who won a multi-state contest designing anti-drug posters.
She stated “Not all police are bad, and we happen to be around the good ones,” “I teach my children to stay out of the way of police, because police are trained to be the way they are. They never know when someone will hurt them.”
The program is being funded at least in part by donations of which the officers themselves are personally contributing to make their community better.
Kirkman said “They are shaping young lives and views of children that will one day be adults in Charlotte,” she says. “They are having an impact, and not just with helping them learn to read. These children are learning that people other than their mom and dad care about them. These officers care what happens to them.”
Other sources of donations and assistance have contributed in this effort from the community including Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Second Harvest Food Bank, the Center for Community Transitions and the Friendly Dental Van program.
If you would like to help this community Woodstone residents are seeking donations to fund a kids’ trip to Latta Plantation. Donations can be made to Kids Rein and sent to Latta Plantation Equestrian Center, 6201 Sample Road, Huntersville, NC, 28078. In the memo section note: For The children of Woodstone Apartments.