Organization would give children alternative to gangs

Published 10:24 am Saturday, June 13, 2009

Not too long ago, Franklin Police Chief Hardison made a presentation to the City Council covering our local gang problem.

He clearly revealed our need to hire officers and our growing need to quickly do what is necessary to protect our community from the anarchy and dangers that come from high-spirited and youthful gangsters doing their thing all around the city.

As I listened to him, I continually asked myself: What can I do to get in on this fight for law and order? I decided that I will plant my flag on the south side — and fight for crime prevention.

Last year I enrolled my son in a business training program, headquartered in Norfolk, called Learning Entrepreneurs Getting It Together, or “L.E.G.I.T.” We go to Norfolk to participate, and after checking and trying out the program, I know that L.E.G.I.T. is an excellent program to bring to Franklin.

Kids need to learn how to work. They need to belong to positive groups and participate in uplifting activities; not every child can or wants to play sports. This is an activity that not only teaches them how to work. It teaches them to pursue the American dream. They can make legal money and learn how to deal with people in a respectful way. Every potential gang banger whom we can get off our streets will one day become a hardworking taxpayer contributing to society.

L.E.G.I.T. (Learning Entrepreneurs Getting It Together) was established in October 2003 under the direction of Terry Kelly. Kelly’s mission was to develop an after-school program to teach entrepreneurship to youth ages 9-18, which he has successfully done.

L.E.G.I.T. participants are educated regarding the importance of giving back to the community. Philanthropy and volunteering is incorporated into the L.E.G.I.T. program. L.E.G.I.T. entrepreneurs are taught the value and obligation of being responsible corporate citizens. The Norfolk group annually gives Christmas cards to the Sykes Senior Citizens and No. 8 Berkley Community Fire Station. They volunteered and supported many civic events such as Bay Day Cleanup, Berkley Neighborhood Reunion, Southside Great American Cleanup and fundraising for Hurricane Katrina victims. And the Franklin chapter would do more of the same within this community.

L.E.G.I.T. participants receive textbook foundational principles of entrepreneurship. They then obtain the first-hand experience of owning and operating their own business.

Some of L.E.G.I.T.’s entrepreneurs own and operate a retail clothing line, landscaping company, property maintenance company and a fragrant soaps business.

L.E.G.I.T. youth receive technical training that equips them to understand the dynamics of finances and economics. When each L.E.G.I.T. entrepreneur establishes a profitable business and successfully completes the investment training, they are required to open bank accounts and invest in the stock market.

Let us partner with Terry Kelly and his organization and make a positive change in the lives of our children and prevent crime on our streets.

I want our community to do the organizational work this summer and start operating this fall. Anyone interested in signing up a child should contact me.

In order to get going, the community needs to supply the following:

■ A building where we can meet twice a month.

■ Access to a van or bus for field trips.

■ Parents and guardians willing to work.

■ Local political, business, education and religious leaders to volunteer to speak to the children about how to be successful in life, develop leadership skills and promote successful business ventures.

Anyone wishing to talk directly with the program director of LEGIT can contact Kelly at 284-9089 or visit the organization’s Web site at

Contact me at 569-1536 or

Let’s come together and make a difference.