Love Transformation Project working to curb violence in California neighborhood
As violence in west Louisville continues to escalate, the Love Transformation Project is moving into the California neighborhood.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As violence in west Louisville continues to escalate, the Love Transformation Project is moving into the California neighborhood.
“What we’re trying to do is reach out to the kids and maybe curb the violence and give them an alternative,” said Calvin Wooten, LTP’s founder.
The group targets Louisville neighborhoods riddled with drugs and crime in the hope of transforming the city with simple acts of love. For the past couple years, LTP has been working in the Shelby Park and Portland neighborhoods. And Wooten has noticed a difference.
“I can’t say that we’re directly connected to less violence over there, but there is less violence over there now,” he said.
Betty Young lives in Park Hill, one of the more dangerous west end neighborhoods. She said LTP helped her when no one else could.
“They helped me get away from an abusive relationship, so they probably saved my life,” she said.
She had to flee to Indiana to escape the situation. She is now back in Louisville, and she enjoys bringing her grandson to LTP events.
“It teaches him better things than watching people get shot all the time,” Young said.
She said her 5-year-old grandson learned how to serve watching the volunteers at each event. Now, he tries to serve his family at home by offering to set the table or bring others their food. Young said it’s a beautiful thing to see him learn such simple, valuable lessons that could change his life.
At a typical outreach event, volunteers offer free haircuts, meals, clothes and toys to crowds of hundreds of people. Now, they’re doing the same for the California neighborhood. Wooten believes the most effective way to make change is through personal contact, not expensive programs. He called his method of focusing on love as "old school."
“I feel strongly that the common denominator in the solution and the problem is people,” Wooten said. “And no amount of money is really going to fix the issue with the kids on the streets shooting each other.”
Last Friday, six teenagers were taken to the hospital after getting shot at the corner of 17th and Prentice Streets, right next to California Park. That was two days before LTP had its first event in the California neighborhood. Wooten remembered how he felt hearing about the shooting.
“My heart stopped," he said. "And to be honest, I stopped where I was, and I cried."
However, it also reminded him why he wants to invest in that neighborhood in the first place.
“I think the community here is just tired of the violence," Wooten said. "They want something different,and I think that’s where we come in."
Tiffany Garr has been involved with LTP since the very beginning. She was the one to help start the free haircuts, which are very popular at LTP events. She said she always knew the group would grow to make a big, positive impact.
“Alcohol and drugs have affected my life, and I’m trying to steer my children away from that,” Garr said.
She said she sees the LTP events impacting the families that come out and also the volunteer families that help, like her own.
“I have four children,” she said. “In the beginning, I brought the two oldest, and now I bring all four of them. And it shows them a different perspective on life.”
Garr also said she always could use more hairdressers to help volunteer their time on the weekends for these events. If you would like to help, click here to reach out to the group’s Facebook page.
Wooten added that it’s important the volunteers try to inspire the kids to reach for more.
“Before you can educate someone and give them money for college education or anything like that, you’ve got to get them to believe in themselves," he said. "And that’s hard, and it takes time.”
For more information on Sunday’s event in the California neighborhood, click here. It will run from 3-5 p.m. at California Park. All kids and families are welcome.
The group has a volunteer base of around 300 people, but they can always use more. Sometimes, Wooten said the volunteers are scared to work in these neighborhoods. If you would like to volunteer at this weekend’s event, please meet at Centennial Olivet Baptist Church, 1541 West Oak Street, between 2-2:15 p.m.
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