Durham woman to open community center this week after leaders ask for mentors, volunteers to help youth

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Durham community members are calling on others for help with gun violence on the rise throughout the city.

Monday the mayor of Durham called on the community to stop the violence. It’s a call Sheryl Smith hopes to answer.

“I just want to see a big smile on these babies’ faces — that they know they got a safe place to be and they know somebody cares and loves them,” said Smith.

Friday she plans to open up a new community center off Main Street in Durham.

She’s hoping it will keep Durham’s youth out of trouble.

Following Monday’s shooting that left two teens dead and wounded four other youths, Durham mayor Elaine O’Neal asked the community for help

“Neighbors, you must mentor our youth, you must volunteer, businesses must provide internships and job opportunities,” said O’Neal.

Mentoring the youth is a call both Smith and Tamario Howze are answering.

Howze is a reverend and is working with churches and organizations to develop programs and internships to mentor Durham youth.

“To wake up with this horrific news that kids have been killed, it just made me feel even the more passionate about working toward some type of solution,” said Howze. “Opportunities are needed for some of these kids. I believe whatever the employment is it has to lead to something that will give them a sense of hope that when they grow up they will be able to have a sustaining lifestyle.”

Smith says she plans to open her community center Friday and has plans to open another one in the Franklin Village area next year.

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