GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - There are community groups committed to breaking the cycle of violence in Grand Rapids. One man came close to choosing a life of crime and violence, but is now fighting back against it.
"I come from what you can refer to as the ghetto," said LeMarr Jackson, 20, as he walked along Madison Ave. in Grand Rapids. "I didn't want to be a part of that other life."
The "other life" LeMarr is referring to is a life of crime and violence.
"A lot of the problems and shootings have been going on right here around my house," added Jackson.
His safe haven from the violence is a community outreach program called "Tall Turf Ministries", which is located at 816 Madison Ave. SE.
"When I got here, it latched on to me," said Jackson, who started coming to Tall Turf when he was 8 years old. "They really mentored me and helped me grow in many, many ways."
Tall Turf is a faith-based organization which offers year-round programming for a diverse group from ages 8-17.
It's mission is, "empowering youth to have a voice in their community," said Miriam DeJong, who serves as the director of programs for Tall Turf. "[We want youth] to really see themselves as agents of change and transformation in their community."
Jackson says he's become that agent of change, because too many of his friends and family members need him to be.
"I will try to get them away from that life," Jackson said passionately. "I hate to have people close to me and my loved ones die. I've seen it too many times. It's not the right thing to do."
Jackson says he plans to continue volunteering at Tall Turf Ministries, and will begin pursuing a career as a youth minister.