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November 27--  Leaders of Community Project Hope are appealing to local pastors to help save a generation of young black men and women.

At a meeting in Vidalia Tuesday night, Vidalia Mayor Pro Tem Raymond Turner, who also chairs the Project Hope board, said "We know we're supposed to do it at home, but as a community we've got to be a whole family when we see our young men, especially the black males, we're losing them."

Middle Judicial Circuit District Attoreny Hayward Altman told the group violent crime is reaching a critical stage in our area.

"Murders, aggravated assaults and domestic violence have gotten to a critical stage," he said.

Community Project Hope works with the judicial system to help young people in trouble to have a second chance.  The DA applauds their efforts.

"The thought processes these individuals shared tonight regarding discipline, being involved with the youth in the community and with getting churches involved is key.  If they can get God involved in lives they will be successful," he said.

And Altman says the most important thing parents can do for their kids is to learn to say no.  "I tell parents they are not their children's best friend and the key word they need to learn is no," he said.

The founder of Community Project Hope, Wilson Johnson of Vidalia, depends on local churches to shepherd young people in trouble.

"Now they're getting shot, they're getting killed, they're robbing and we've got more gang violence than ever before.  The reason is they don't go to church so someone can teach them what the bible says.

"All of these pastors have a tremendous responsibility to God and their community to try to change the lives of people.  Once we do that we'll see a whole different breed of people and we can clean it up.

"I don't criticize those young men who are doing things and I don't criticize those young girls because they haven't been taught.  It's our responsibility and I blame us, not them," he said.