SOUTH BEND —Bobbie Woods paused to think about the subject that cost her a son.
Richard "Digger" Phelps called a "Town Hall Meeting To Stop Youth
Violence" at the Salvation Army's Kroc Center Thursday night to
recruit mentors for South Bend's at-risk kids, but mentoring was old
news to the Mamas Against Violence president who lost her own son to a
"One of the things that I'm concerned about as I hear them talk about
mentoring programs ... it's nothing new to the community," said Woods,
whose son, Terrill Woods, was gunned down in February 2003.
"There have been mentor programs before and there will be mentor
programs afterwards," she said. "We have these mentor programs and
normally they're short-term. You mentor kids for six months a year,
and then what happens to that kid?"
What happened to four young men just up the street from the Kroc
Center earlier this week precipitated the former Notre Dame basketball
coach's town hall meeting.
Early Sunday morning a double-shooting in the 1100 block of Napier
Street killed 21-year-old Kalyn Farmer and 22-year-old Mercede
The next night, another double-shooting left a 21-year-old
man and an 18-year-old man with gunshot wounds in their legs.
Phelps recalled a phone call Monday night from Common Council
President and South Bend Police Officer Derek Dieter.
"He said, 'That's sad about the shooting.' And I said, 'Yeah, Saturday
night,' " Phelps said.
"He said, 'No, two more were shot tonight.' And I said, 'Enough is enough.' "
The Kroc Center auditorium was near capacity as Phelps drew from the
entire community -- from Woods to former Irish basketball star LaPhonso
Ellis to interim South Bend Police Chief Chuck Hurley and Dieter -- in
a push to recruit "500 mentors" for at-risk kids and promote
neighborhood watch community policing programs throughout the area.
"If a chubby old crippled chick can do it, you can do it," said Becky
Kaiser of Diamond Street's "Diamond Divas" neighborhood watch group.
The overriding solution of the evening called for ways to keep kids
off the streets and in school.
Aramas Long, 18, a student at Rise Up Academy, said more job
opportunities would keep young people off the streets.
"Especially people who deserve the opportunity to get a job, we're
going to do whatever we got to do to keep that job," Long said. "If we
got a job, and violence is calling on the cell phone, we're going, 'I
gotta work tomorrow,' and that job is keeping us off the streets."
Phelps dialed up an old basketball memory by issuing a challenge for
South Bend to help the U.S. compete with Shanghai for the world's No.
1 ranking in high school science and math studies.
"When I came here my first year, UCLA was No. 1," Phelps recalled. "We
lost by 56 points the first time I played John Wooden out there.
"Three years later we beat them and we were No. 1. Well guess what?
South Bend's going to take on Shanghai in math and science."
Woods took aim at curbing youth violence by calling for the community
to be proactive instead of reactive -- on a day-to-day basis.
"Every time there's a shooting," she said, "everybody wants to jump on
board and try to fix the problem.
"But we need to be fixing and working on this problem every day ...
not to wait for another parent to lose a child and then try to get all
excited and try to fix that issue.
"I challenge each and every one of you to do your part, do something
in this community to save a life."
Staff writer Jeff Harrell: