A group created more than four years ago during a period of rising gun violence in northern Beaufort County is preparing for a second act.
Citizens Against Violence Everyone, the brainchild of Beaufort High School assistant principal and outgoing Beaufort County Councilman Herbert Glaze, started with simple goals: boosting parental and community involvement and steering young people away from drugs and gangs.
Now, with his 18-year County Council career coming to a close after losing a June primary to Councilman Gerald Dawson, Glaze wants to lead the group in a new direction. In addition to the anti-violence efforts, he wants to work with troubled kids in the third and fourth grades. Those children would be assigned mentors for three months at a time. Counseling services might also be made available to the students and their parents.
The group would continue monitoring students until they graduate from high school.
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"It's not a quick fix; it's something you want to take the time and work with kids to get them on the straight road," Glaze said.
Details are still being worked out, Glaze said. He hopes to roll out the new program in March.
Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner, who said he is not familiar with CAVE's new plans, praised the group's previous efforts to reach kids early. Research has shown that waiting until middle school can be too late, he says.
"Fundamentally, we may find it difficult at times to feel like we are having success with children at that early an age, so we focus on middle and high school," he said. "A lot of times, when you focus on those groups, the kids have reached an age where they have already made up their minds."The idea for CAVE came to Glaze in a dream after an especially bloody stretch in 2007 and 2008. Early on, the group hosted forums and events from Seabrook to Hilton Head Island and met two or more times a month.
But over time and as the violence ebbed, the group met less frequently.
"It went from twice a month to once a month to once every two months," Glaze said. "The more we meet, the better it is, the more cohesiveness we have. But because we didn't do that, we weren't on our guard, so to speak."
In addition to a new focus, Glaze said the group is incorporating as a nonprofit organization. Once that occurs, it will seek grants and other money for its mission. He also is looking for mentors and adults from varied backgrounds to speak to children to let them know there are different paths to success.
Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen, who has been involved with CAVE for years, said the group's anti-violence message is just as important now as it was four years ago.
"By no means has the need diminished."