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Inner City Innovators take next step to build bridges with troubled West Palm Beach communities

Posted at 11:31 PM, Sep 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-16 00:02:41-04
One step at a time, Ricky Aiken with Inner City Innovators is coming up with new ways to change the cycle of violence in the heart of troubled West Palm Beach communities. 
 
"It doesn't matter how you die, your family is going to be left heartbroken," said Aiken.
 
The most recent victim was Willie Garvin, 46. He was shot and killed near Third Street and Sapodilla Avenue last week. Two men were arrested by police Thursday in connection to the shooting. The incident is the third shooting in two weeks after the peaceful summer in the city. 
 
"You kind of exhale once the summer was over, but it's hard. We don't know what beefs if you will, individuals have with each other," said Kevin Jones, Mayor's Assistant, West Palm Beach. 
 
That's why Aiken and his team are working to prepare care packages for victims' families. They hope to establish relationships and ease tensions in the inner city communities. 
 
"Let's talk to them because even in doing that, we get a greater sense of what's going on in the community," said Aiken during a Peace Walk Thursday. 
 
Even residents who don't live in the Tamarind, Pleasant City, and North End communities came out to the peace walk to show their support. 
 
"It's my city. This is part of my city. I don't live here, but I have empathy for the people that do," said Sandy Matkivich. 
 
Outside community members are joining West Palm Beach police and city officials like Jones every third Thursday of the month. They walk the distressed neighborhoods and hand out applications for a hiring program.
 
"We at least get people's information," said Jones. "If you are an employer we would love for you to give opportunities to some of these young men." 
 
Jones says so far 35 young men have signed up to find a job. He hopes more employers will reach out and join the comprehensive workforce initiative. 

 

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