RENTON, Wash. - The rise in crime and violence in south King County has caused some concern for residents and sparked a call to action.
A local UPS employee that's been working to make changes in his own community helped to host a Black Equality Coalition block party Saturday in an area of Renton that's been challenged by crime in the past.
"We can get out and touch the people and show them that we care about them," said Dominick Cole, a local barber that donated his time and talents for free at the block party. "It’s a blessing to be a blessing that’s what it is."
Malachi, a youngster who was receiving a free haircut Saturday told us that he approved. "My haircut is good," he said.
Music games and food were also part of the celebration.
Anthony Curtis, CEO and Executive Director of the Black Equality Coalition, said that he had helped to organize the event to inspire people of all races and cultures and to give youth a new vision of what is possible.
"We are better together and look what’s happening," he said. "This is what life should look like every day for every culture and I want to show our young black and brown people that this is what it looks like. You don’t have to do negative things. You don’t have to sell dope, you don’t have to pimp, you don’t have to rob people. You can get together with people, get some of these resources and make it happen," he said.
The Young Black ‘N’ Brilliant book club in south Puyallup also joined in the celebration by hosting a tent. "We want to bring community and foster that love for literature in a positive fun environment," said Vanessa Nelson, Founder and CEO of YBNB. She says it's important to foster personal growth in young people.
"A lot of kids are not reading. We want them to make sure that they know, there is a safe place. It’s more than a book club right?," said Nelson. "We want to build up leaders. We want to make sure our kids feel like they have a positive community."
Free clothes, showers and hygiene items were also offered during the event for those in need.
"It’s always good when you can get multiple organizations, people from all walks of life, to kind of just collaborate and come together for the common good," said Joshua Sayles, Community Relations Officer for the King County Sheriff's Office.
Sayles was on hand to join the fun and to talk with members of the community.
"Trying to have that positive impact, especially with the youth," he said. "I had mentors, they need mentors. They need events like this; free haircuts, food, games and to kind of just see that personable side of law enforcement."
Anthony says partners like UPS and Safeway also helped to make the party possible.
"We have different vendors out here, we have got different organizations. We have different businesses, local businesses. We have had a lot of support from Starbucks, a lot of support from UPS," said Anthony. "It’s phenomenal right now. This is what the American dream looks like, equality for everybody."
He's calling on others to join the coalition in spreading positivity in the future.
"You might not have money, but you might have time. You might not have time, but you might have money however you can give your service," he said.
Anthony says to look for more events like this from the coalition in the weeks ahead, including a community day of service that is being planed for late June.