CHESTERFIELD CO., (WRIC) – New Life Outreach Church in Chesterfield has been reaching out and helping the youth in the community for nearly 50 years.
Rosalinda Rivera, Executive Director of New Life For Youth, said there’s a need to bridge the gap between police and the community.
“Growing up here in the county, I’ve seen the county shift in some areas,” Rivera told 8News Reporter Roxie Bustamante. “We feel that there is a really great need for at-risk youth and that’s where we’re reaching out with this community outreach program.”
Rivera teamed up with Senior Officer Ricky Cremonese and Officer First Class Oscar Ortega with Chesterfield County Police and asked volunteers to help them organize free camps for kids.
Rivera said the first camp had dozens of kids, but the second had more than 100.
“All of a sudden, the doors open up and the line wrapped around the gym down the hallway and the kids were so excited and they could not believe we were doing this at no cost to them,” Rivera said. “We actually had a mother who embraced one of the officers and said I can’t believe you are doing this for my kid.”
Senior Officer Ricky Cremonese and Officer First Class Oscar Ortega both serve as community policing officers for Chesterfield County. Cremonese said it’s the time spent one-on-one on and off the courts that creates lasting bonds.
“A lot of times during the day we’ll get out, we’ll play football, basketball, baseball,” Cremonese said. “I can tell you it’s priceless.”
Rivera said she is pushing to start a Police Athletic League in Chesterfield County.
“Do you know that every county surrounding us has one but we don’t have one here in Chesterfield?” Rivera said. “Communities that have a Police Athletic League, they have a better relationship when something goes down in their community they feel strong about calling the police department and I think our police can be more affective when the kids can see them playing with them, encouraging them, giving them a good role model, not just locking them up.”
The volunteers will be hosting another outreach event on August 28, from 10am-2pm. They are in need of donations: 10-12 bicycles for children ages 12-17 and helmets. Also, two 15 passenger vans.
If you want to help, contact New Life For Youth program at 804-276-6767 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.