LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A Little Rock nonprofit is hoping to change the lives of kids this summer. The goal is to stop violence among youth by giving them hands on work.
The Pettus Helping Hand Foundation began in 2018, the founder says all he ever wanted to do was make a positive impact and hopes to continue doing just that this summer.
Cutting grass could be seen as a chore to most teens but to 15-year-old Jayson Williams it’s so much more.
“It’s about helping other people,” Williams said.
Williams is one of many teens taking part in the Pettus Foundation Youth Summer Program.
“My mom told me about it, and I was like okay it sounds cool, I will do it,” Williams said.
Founder Kris Pettus created the summer program after the record-breaking number of homicides in Little Rock last year.
“I was like we are not going to have that again,” Pettus said.
Going into action, Pettus hired 50 young people from 13 to 21 to do yard work for the summer in targeted communities.
“So, I wanted to take at-risk youth and bring them to where they have positive people around them so that way the future can be brighter for them and we are keeping them off the street,” Pettus said.
Williams said he likes that Pettus is trying to make a change.
“I hate to see young people my age are leaving the earth so early, so it’s about if you want to help, ‘come on man’, we will take everyone,” Williams said.
Being a part of the program is showing 17-year-old Sonya Johnson the grass is greener on the other side.
“I’m from this neighborhood, so I feel like everyone that has been through some stuff and everyone that I have met through Kris has shown me and told me a different story and how they’ve been through it and what they are doing now so I feel like it will be okay,” Johnson said.
The issue Pettus says, is they’re at capacity and there’s been more kids calling every day.
“Once we get more funding, I can be able to bring in maybe 300 to 400 kids that are dying to get this opportunity,” Pettus said.
Both Williams and Johnson said they’re learning how to manage money and keeping their eyes set on what they want to do in the future.