Outreach group promotes resources in Tacoma's most dangerous neighborhoods

TACOMA – Violence in Tacoma motivated one group of people to put boots to the ground to help curb crime. Members of R.A.I.N. (Rising Above the Influence) go to high-risk neighborhoods to connect people to positive resources.

R.A.I.N.’s project manager, Calvin Kennon, said their mission was to, “empower youth and young adults to overcome the influence of the streets by providing support and connecting them with resources and services that promote survival and self-sustaining success in achieving their goals.”

Kennon explained an important part of R.A.I.N.’s community outreach was building positive relationships with people to gain trust and create dialogue with people who may be at high risk.

“Gives us the opportunity, not just to work with the individuals, but to work with their entire household. Everybody under the umbrella who lives in that household,” said Kennon. “Do what we can to the best of our abilities to obviously curb the gang violence. But in the process of curbing the gang violence, first and foremost, reaching out to that individual and getting them grounded and connected with employment, housing, resources that they’re not aware off.”

Chris McManus is a case manager for R.A.I.N. and also an outreach coordinator. He further explained part of the work they do was connecting with families of people who were at high risk.

“The problems that are being faced by the individual aren’t just being faced by the individual. It is a family structure that is in need of help,” said McManus. “You can’t just isolate the individual. What we try to do is build up the entire family, build up the community because ultimately it will come down to individuals not being individualized, not being targeted.”

Kennon said the outreach team walks the streets of the most dangerous neighborhoods in pairs every day and sometimes at night.

“A gang situation might be at one place one day and it might be totally clear across Tacoma the next day. So, what we’re doing is just doing the boots to the ground so we can find out and figure out and see what is going on,” said Kennon.

Kennon said they had a busy summer trying to curb gun violence. He explained a lot of the people caught in dangerous situations don’t have positive resources in their lives.

“We find out how we can help you and help meet your needs. Whether it be housing, whether it be school reentry, employment—whatever it looks like to them,” said Kennon.

Within 30 days in Tacoma’s eastside neighborhood, there were three shootings—two men were shot near the 4600 block of South J Street, two men were killed and three women were injured near the 2100 Block of East 38th Street and one 16-year-old boy was killed after being shot on a front porch near E. 32nd Street and E. R Street.

McManus said they know there is still work to do in reaching more people in the neighborhoods and on the streets.

“You can’t fix it overnight. It takes work. And so, we’re out here doing the work. We’re out here every day, we’re out here some nights. And so, it’s going to be a process,” said McManus.

“We ask them, ‘How much longer do you want to do this? How much longer?’ Because when it’s all said and done, the end result is going to be institution or death,” said Kennon.

R.A.I.N. members said they noticed more collaboration from the community. Kennon said more people reached out to them asking how they could support the group’s mission.

“They want to see their communities safe, they want to see individuals get to a better place,” said Kennon.

R.A.I.N. members said they also saw increased support from local schools, businesses and homeowners to help turn things around in the community.

R.A.I.N. is funded through the City of Tacoma. The program is part of Comprehensive Life Resources.