A Jacksonville community whose members have mourned their share of teens killed by gunfire in recent years as well as worked together to save them will soon be home to a new program to bring children and their families together on Friday nights.
SPOT, for Safe Place for Our Teens, will be at the same community center where a 14-year-old boy was gunned down four summers ago.
Set from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday nights from June 8 to July 29 at Johnnie Walker Community Center at 2500 W. 20th St., SPOT aims to bring families together with businesses and other community groups so “everybody learns and everybody wins,” said Grand Park Civic Association president Lloyd Washington. He joined the mayor, sheriff and community members Monday to announce a partnership in the program with a personal reason why he wants it to help children and their families.
“I mentored a young man and spent a lot of time with him. I got a phone call that he had been shot in the head,” Washington said. “I am hoping that never happens again.”
The Rev. John Guns of St. Paul Church of Jacksonville first proposed SPOT to city leaders. Guns, who founded Operation Save Our Sons in 2013 to work with young men who need direction with help from schools and police, said Friday nights were chosen because a lot of crime occurs then.
“We believe this is a little bit different because the focus is on the family, with book giveaways,…