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New program has in-your-face approach to curbing violence

By Kathy Reynolds

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) – A new effort to curb violence in Springfield is hard to miss.

That’s because the organizers wear bright orange shirts. They are with Roca. It’s a group that believes persistence pays off. They are going into neighborhoods and recruiting 50 high-risk youth, including gang members, drug users and even convicts.

Roca intends on getting these young people on work crews that will attempt to make them contributing members of the community. They say when a young person fails to show up for work, they go find that person. They stay in contact with these young people, and say that’s what’s different.

By being self-described “pains in the butt,” Roca organizers said it finds success. The group, first launched in Chelsea, have said the work crew success rate in that community is at 90 percent.