ST. LOUIS - The effort to find 500 men willing to volunteer to stand at certain school bus stops in St. Louis for the first week of class got a boost on Monday. 112 volunteers filled out applications to be part of a program called Neighborhood Net. It was launched by Better Family Life, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the St. Louis Public Schools.
A second meeting will be held at Sweetie Pies Upper Crust located at 3643 Delmar on Tuesday from 5 pm to 7 pm. Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to attend the meeting. The hope is to recruit enough volunteers to stand at some 220 school bus stops in areas where it’s believed safety is a concern.
“Some of the bus stops may be in front of vacant buildings and some may be in front of vacant lots with overgrown weeds,” said Better Family Life’s James Clark.
“The presence of people that care can make a difference,” said volunteer applicant Henry White.
Organizers said the impetus for the program came in part from a rash of violence this summer that resulted in the loss of life of several innocent children.
“We’ve got to come together,” said Clark. “We can work together. It doesn’t matter who gets the credit, let’s do what’s right for St. Louis.”
Volunteers will be screened and will be told not to interact with students. They will be wearing t-shirts with a Neighborhood Net logo. They are there as a presence to make students feel safer and to report any problems. Clark called on volunteers who attended the first recruitment meeting on Monday to recruit others to join the effort.
“When men see other men doing things then they follow through and that’s what’s most important is to help get other men out in the community,” said volunteer Errol Bush.
Jimmie Edwards is the Director of Public Safety for St. Louis. He encourages anyone who cares about the safety of children to attend Tuesday’s meeting. He said, “Whether you have a child in the public schools or not if you love our city it is incumbent upon you to help us keep it safe.”