RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. -- When it comes to crime research shows there are few places in the country with a higher crime rate than Riviera Beach.
Neighborhood Scout says one in 73 people have the chance of becoming a victim of a violent crime. Only 4-percent of U.S. cities have a higher rate than that. But there’s a new group trying to make a difference.
“I have always wanted to give back and show my appreciation to the city that helped raise me and help transform me to who I am standing today,” said Jacoby Waters founder and president of the non-profit Young Men of Distinction. “I want to break the cycle of how people see our young men instead of the potential they have to be successful. The problems I think that are facing these young men are people looking at them as a number instead of human beings.”
That’s how Waters describes the sometimes grim outlook facing too many African-American at-risk youth in Riviera Beach.
”These kids are birthed into it,” he added.
A father himself – and motivated by the rise in school shootings – Waters started the non-profit and year-round weekly mentorship program for 11 to 18-year-old.
Wednesday’s theme was ‘dress for success,’ a first-time lesson for some. And serious business for Eric Lewis, a Men’s Warehouse assistant manager who traveled from the store in Wellington to be a part of it.
”It’s about making an effort to be a part of these young men’s lives - it’s right in front of you,” said Lewis. “If you can help out one gentleman, four gentlemen, 10 gentlemen – 100 gentlemen. It all starts somewhere.”
Next week’s seminar is resume building and brand pitching. And next month kicks off volunteering. And already the impact of the non-profit – and a possible strike to the city’s crime rate is already gaining a reputation.
”It’s a wonderful idea because we all have to do our part in this community in order for this community to grow.,” said Derek Williams, a local Barber.
"This is bigger than me," added Waters.
WPTV asked Riviera Beach Police about specific data on juvenile crime trends and how this non-profit could help, we’re still waiting on a answer. To learn more or to support Young Men of Distinction (YMOD) visit https://www.facebook.com/ymod19/.