Local youth crime-fighting program at risk of shutting down turns to community for help

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) – Weeding out crime and seeding positive relationships in the community, that’s what a local program has prided themselves on for years.

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Now Weed and Seed is in jeopardy. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit hard, leaving the program unable to qualify for grants and donations have paused.

“That is my biggest fear, is that we will not be able to provide these programs for these kids,” said Gale Braceros, executive director of Weed and Seed. “We bridge the gap between the enforcement and the community and have them work together.”

From youth mentoring to sports programs, Weed and Seed has helped thousands of keiki from Ewa Beach to Ala Moana since 1998.

Participants of the program say it’s changed their lives forever.

“I started bonding with them when they started coming around more often and they always treated us like one of their own,” said Evlyn Rikita, a Weed and Seed participant. “They just helped, because I used to ditch school and I never liked going to school. They helped me stay in it.”

“I was part of the first one when I lived in Kalihi Valley and I know the importance of what they do, coming from a background where I grew up in a rough and tough neighborhood,” said Augie Tulba, City Council Member of District 9. “We need programs like this so we can prevent some of the things that we see now.”

In 2018 to 2019, juvenile arrests in Weed and Seed’s Ewa Beach site dropped by 31 percent.

To help keep the program going, members have put in their own money.

“The board of directors are doing a emergency campaign fund. They put in $100 from their pocket and they’re reaching out to their friends and family to beat that $100 contribution. That’s what we’ve been really depending on to continuing our program,” Braceros said.

“You think about all the great things they do with law enforcement, community policing, prevention, intervention and treatment and neighborhood restoration? How can we not be worried that this program could end without the funding,” said Councilmember Tulba.

Now the community can step in and help by donating via PayPal or by check. For more information on how to contribute, click here.

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