Friday, May 29, 2009

A Troubled Southwest Community

By NCC News Reporter- Kate Sheehy

Syracuse, N.Y. - Timothy Noble Jennings is known to everyone in his troubled southwest Syracuse neighborhood as well, noble. Leaving behind a life of crime in the streets, he now spends time mentoring young men at the Southwest Community Center many of whom are in street gangs.

"I have personal experience with everything that they're going through, I've been through it," said Jennings.

Young men like Terrence Byrdel, who lost both of his parents to drug related crimes, started to follow the same path.

"I didn't know what I wanted to do, I just knew I didn't want to end up dead or in jail," explains Byrdel.

Its a fate Noble says that is all too common in this neighborhood along South Avenue. And a reason why crime rate is soaring in Syracuse's southside. Noble knows the troubles that young boys growing up in this neighborhood face every day.

"This is the gun line," Noble explains, pointing to a specific area in the southside. "You don't see any signs that say gun line or things of that nature, but you could potentially be putting your life on the line."

The warm weather welcomes more crime to the area. The Memorial Day shooting Monday on Matson Avenue,when a young man in his 20's was shot in the head, is what people in these neighborhoods have come to expect when the temperatures rise.

"If it's a 90 degree day, you hear people's conversation like, 'yo yo somebody's gonna get shot today or somebodys gonna get messed up today' can feel it like its in the air," said Byrdel.

And people who live here know the feeling. Mothers like Shaundeese Jones want help protecting their kids.

"Everyday I wake up and make sure that my son is in the house... especially after a shooting...I live on the wrong side of town as I call it," she said. "It's a lot of single parents, a lot of broken homes. There still needs to be somebody for these kids to look up to."

The community center provides a place for kids, off the streets, where for the past 13 years Noble has helped young men finish high school and find jobs.

"People want help, people want to change. I don't know anyone that wants to be stuck in a lifestyle that's basically like hell."

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