A COMMUNITY WORKING TOGETHER TO REACH TEENS
Community Alliance of the Far Eastside, or CAFE, is bringing hope to the neighborhood by working to get people the financial, social and health care assistance they need.
“There’s a lot of public housing there, there’s some distressed properties in that area. There are low education rates, low employment rates – and so there are a lot of social problems that manifest themselves in the area,” said CAFE executive director Melissa Drew. “It’s not just about policing and locking folks up. It’s about addressing those issues that are causing them to be in the system to start with.”
CAFE is part of IMPD’s three-prong approach to 42nd and Post. Bruin said the approach includes enhanced enforcement, community engagement and youth engagement.
“Thirty-eight (percent) of our population on the far east side is under the age of 18, so that’s a lot of kids who need something positive to do,” said Drew.
Andria Valentine is doing her part to fill the gap. Valentine works at CAFE and lives on the Far Eastside.
“I see some activity that can stem to some serious violence. I see a lot of children in that area who could use some mentoring,” said Valentine.
The same kind of mentoring changed her life. Less than two years ago, Valentine was a client at CAFE. She was underemployed and desperate for a full-time job. CAFE helped her find one, and now she works with teens at the center every night.
“They always know they can always talk to me about different issues,” said Valentine.
Valentine said she sees herself in the young ladies she mentors. She also knows they represent the future of her neighborhood.
“More people should get involved with the youth and try to help them … and save them from issues they shouldn’t go through,” said Valentine.
Workers and volunteers at CAFE are looking forward to a brighter future on the far east side.
“There’s a lot of positive happening in the far east side right now … I’m very excited about where our community is headed,” said Drew.
Drew is specifically looking forward to the Finish Line Boys and Girls Club, currently under construction. Next spring, it will open next to CAFE at 38th and Post. CAFE and IMPD say it will make a big difference on the far east side, because every day 250 more kids will have a safe and productive place to spend their time.
“We’d be lost without the community support up there,” said Bruin.
IMPD East District also has several programs to reach teens, including its chess club and Juvenile Justice Jeopardy. The programs allow teenagers to spend their downtime in a safe place and learn to develop healthy relationships with officers.