Volunteer organizations empower Ferguson community


Peter Champelli

If you have any more questions about what I gathered from Ferguson, tweet at me.

The Ferguson Youth Initiative (FYI), a “not for profit serving youth in the Ferguson area,” has organized several community events with their partner program, the Ferguson Youth Advisory Board (FYAB), in response to Michael Brown’s shooting and the civil unrest that has followed.

IMG_7557  These activities, including organizing students and volunteer groups to paint the wooden boards covering businesses’ broken windows, continue to assist area residents in response to the riots against the grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the cop who shot Brown.

After Brown’s death, the FYI released a statement explaining their reactions and response. Within the statement they said that most Ferguson youth “felt that they needed to be in school.” The statement continued, saying “some commented that the emotions and chaos that is expected will still happen when school starts so it would have been better to face it at the initial starting date of school and be past it by now.”

While explaining their community’s response to the events, the FYI said that “based on the media portrayal, many felt trapped and scared in addition to being scared of what might happen next.”

“I have been actively involved on panels with the governor, mayor, and police chief,” a representative from the American Christian Coalition saidIMG_7593 while volunteering outside a local store. “We don’t like the way the indictment came out, the timing it came out, because it put a lot of the citizens of Ferguson, the elderly citizens and the children, at risk.”

She elaborated by describing the unfair way media has been showing Ferguson, and what effect that has had on the community. However, she described how pleased she and the other volunteers are with the community’s response to the situation.

“We love the way that everybody is coming together now, how all races are coming together to help spread the love and show all the positive things that Ferguson represents.”

Although this situation is affecting youth in Ferguson more than anyone outside the country, many of the volunteers repairing damaged buildings said that there were ways other youth could help.

IMG_7634A volunteer outside the “I Love Ferguson” store said, regarding youth around the nation,  “Before you make an opinion, take yourself out of your shoes and try to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. Research and formulate an opinion after doing that instead of just jumping on the bandwagon. I think the best part of this whole situation is the aftermath. The violence is the temporary part but the positive outcome is the overlying factor.”