Program begins with ‘an ounce of prevention’

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While most community programs focus on helping after the situation has occurred, one local church has started a program to help before a situation takes a turn for the worse.

Mount Carmel Baptist Church in North Versailles has started “An Ounce of Prevention,” a faith-based, nonprofit organization that is dedicated to helping young people and families spiritually, socially, educationally and economically.

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WORKING TOGETHER— From left: Rev. W. Wilson Goode Sr. and Rev. Barbara A. Gunn stand together at the ANOP program’s grand opening celebration.

“Often times we (society) wait until it’s too late to try and fix the behavior, our program tries to prevent it from happening,” Rev. Barbara A. Gunn, pastor of Mount Carmel Baptist Church and a member of the board of directors, said. “We try to prevent it from getting to that point. We teach kids and adults to think before they react and show them that there’s a better way to go about things.”

Reverend Gunn said the idea for the program came from the things she experiences through her pastoring, her ministries and from dealing with young people, families and the community. She said the goal of the program is to catch the behavior before it gets out of hand. The program is focused on high-and-at risk youth and families in the North Versailles area, specifically, the Crestas Terrace Housing Complex.

ANOP offers many mentoring programs and services, such as the Alternative to Violence program, which uses individuals who once lived the destructive lifestyle and changed for the better to help others; the Wider Horizons program, which gives young people an opportunity to experience things they might not regularly experience and opens their minds to new things, a food bank, a Divine Intervention Group counseling; and an Amachi program. The Amachi program is a national faith-based program that mentors to youth whose parents are incarcerated. The director and organizer of the national Amachi program, Rev. W. Wilson Goode Sr., doctor of ministry, was the keynote speaker at the grand opening celebration for ANOP. ANOP uses the Amachi model by mentoring to young participants whose parents are in jail and also offers a transition component that helps parents transition back into society after their incarceration.

But two programs that really stand out are the Boys to Men and Crown and Glory mentoring programs that serve boys and girls ages 12 to 18. The Boys to Men program, led by Rev. William Baker, teaches young African-American males leadership, how to be a man in Christ and to be positive role models.

“We teach them how to see themselves as leaders and help them to impact the community by giving them other options and showing them positive role models. And we also teach them to see themselves as leaders,” Rev. Baker said.

The Crown and Glory program mentors to girls and teaches them how to build character, integrity and how to be a strong, godly woman. Denise Baker, leader of the group, says that her group, “Encourages the girls to broaden their minds and discusses the importance of community service and how to not give in to the pressure that society puts in their paths.” She added she feels that the An Ounce of Prevention program will impact the community greatly and provide resources that are much needed.

Along with the various programs the organization offers, they also have created a new library and resource center that will be named after the late Benjamin Moore, a member of the community who had a passion for education and helping young people. His entire personal library has been donated to be a part of the new one.

Reverend Gunn said that although much of the program is geared to young people, there does need to be a level of parent involvement. Some of the causes for the issues she sees on a regular basis are a lack of parent involvement. Also, a lot of the parents had their children young and are learning along with their children.

Although the group has just begun, she sees it’s already growing and has plans to expand.

(For more information about An Ounce of Prevention, call 412-823-2841 or e-mail office@mtcarmelbaptistnv.org.)

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