Help us save lives of young adults in Queens. We’re building a movement to end gun violence, save lives and instill peace as a lifestyle. Join us!
It starts with LIFE!
LIFE Camp develops teens and young adults into peer leaders and employment as we provide positive alternatives to violence. LIFE Camp also builds partnerships between community stakeholders within the public and private sectors, to respond collectively, collaboratively & therapeutically to the issue of violence that impacts South Jamaica, Queens, New York.
This fundraising campaign has been featured in numerous news articles so far. Check it out:
- NY Daily News: "Queens anti-violence group shot in foot by city red tape"
- Milwaukee Community Journal: "$100,000 crowdsourcing campaign for anti-violence group faced with a funding shortage"
- Atlanta Black Star: "Uncle Rush: Russell Simmons Donates $10K to Anti-Violence Charity in NYC"
We stop and prevent violence
We train and employ a team of community members and young people, many of whom have lost family members to gun violence or were involved in street activity when they were younger, and deploy them to the community to stop violence before it happens. Majority of violence in our community is retaliatory, so it imperative that we are able to respond to any sort of violence to prevent retaliation by the victim’s family or friends. These violence intervention and prevention workers literally interrupt acts of violence as they are happening or just before they are about to happen. They are on the front-lines of the war that rages in our community.
We also believe in investing in preventative measures, so no young person ever feels the necessity to respond to their daily conflict with violence. Our full program includes: anger-management, mediation classes, hip-hop yoga and group counseling.
It’s in the numbers
During the prior eighteen months, before our full program was implemented, 17 people had been shot in our community.
Once our program was fully operational, we had 340 days of NO SHOOTINGS in our target area in South Jamaica, Queens.
We mediated over 115 incidents that would have led to gun violence.
Then our funding got held up by red tape and our grant did not come in on time, so we had to stop paying our young people and had to close our community center.
In August, 5 people were shot!
The leader of LIFE Camp:
Erica Ford is widely respected as one of the most diligent and hard working activists of her generation. She is uncompromisingly dedicated to improving of the lives of Black and Latino youth and of the community-at-large. For over 20 years, this outstanding leader and internationally recognized peace activist has led the effort to combat violence and inspire youth in devastated communities. She is the Executive Director of LIFE Camp, a youth-based nonprofit organization which promotes the value of LIFE and develops teens and adults into peer leaders, to avoid becoming perpetrators or victims of violence.
“When President Obama convened his task force on gun violence in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, Queens’ Erica Ford had a reserved seat at the table.” ~ The NY Daily News
A letter from Erica Ford:
I started LIFE camp because the number of funerals I was attending for young people made me think there HAD to be something else, there had to be another way.
Ultimately it was my love for the people I grew up with that made me want to do this. A lot of men were killed in the crack epidemic in New York in the 1980s, and because of the repercussions, a lot of young people were left without parents. I wanted to give those kids life, and that’s why we came up with “LIFE”—it stands for “Love Ignites Freedom through Education.” We felt that if we provided them with something different, they would see a better way and then eventually live a better life.
I believe it’s imperative that we attempt to understand people on both sides of the pistol. They are both human beings, both victims. They both need help, because hurt people hurt people. This philosophy is at the core of LIFE camp and I truly believe this is why we have been able to stop so many potentially violent situations.
Gun violence is not a problem that is regulated to one area of a neighborhood, a city, or a state. Gun violence has permeated our national conscience. It is a disease that is spreading and that needs to be stopped. We have to look at violence as a disease and fight it just like you fight a flu or malaria. We have to change the paradigm of how we address these issues and LIFE Camp is that new paradigm.
Through the years I’ve learned that I can’t do this alone. I need the mothers who have lost children and can now bear their pain to lend a shoulder to the mothers who feel they can’t go on. I need the young people who have been locked up to mentor the younger generation away from jail. I need people from both sides of the gun to get services. And I need YOU in order to be able to do all of this!
Where the money will go
Every dollar you give, we greatly appreciate. Every dollar we receive will help save a life.
The $100,000 we seek to raise will be used for the following:
Thank you from the bottom of our hears for joining our movement!
There are simply two words I would like to say to you: THANK YOU!
In September, after the landlord to our community center turned off our electricity and our doors had to be closed, I thought LIFE Camp would be over forever. But, through the will of a group of incredible supporters, they would not us stay closed for too long. On Monday morning of this week, our doors were re-opened, our lights were turned back on, our heat (it's cold in NYC this week!) worked and most importantly, young people were given their jobs back! This could not of happened if it wasn't for YOU! You made this happen. Whether you gave $1 or $50,000, it did not matter to us, because we knew you gave whatever you could and for that we are eternally grateful!!
Over 550 people gave to our campaign and through donations on Crowdtilt and a few checks we received in the mail, we raised $129,550 in 31 days!!!!!!!! I want to sincerely thank the folks at Crowdtilt as they have been supportive of this campaign every step of the way...above and beyond anything we ever expected. I encourage you all, if you ever want to do a crowd-sourcing campaign, use Crowdtilt.
We have much work to do in the coming months. We are working with some great partners to create new strategies for fundraising, as we never want to be put in this situation again. We are devising new models of sustainability and other sources of income, so LIFE Camp can serve our community without any interruption.
We hope that this experience inspired you as well, to help not just our program, but other anti-violence programs in your community and around the country. We all strive for a day where no mother or no father has to ever bury their child. We will not stop until that day comes true.
Lastly, everyone at LIFE Camp would like to wish you and your family a beautiful Thanksgiving, a joyous holiday and a peaceful new year!
THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!
Humbly, Erica Ford
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