MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Amid an alarming amount of children becoming victims of gun violence, some are asking what can be done to stop it.
CBS4 embarked on a mission to do our part in featuring people and organizations that are committed to mentoring the youth in our community through Mentoring Matters.
CBS4’s Rudabeh Shahabazi met a young man who is working his way to the top of county government with the support of the Miami Children’s Initiative (MCI).
Cecilia Gutierrez is the president and CEO of MCI whose goal is to invest in the whole family, aiming to break the cycle of violence and generational poverty through education.
She says, “We are the chance and we are the hope for the children of this community. No one is coming to Liberty City to save the children of this community.”
Gutierrez said she grew up on food stamps and Section 8 housing. She eventually earned a master’s degree in public administration and she knows firsthand what it takes to change the course of a child’s life.
“Both my brothers have been in and out of jail. I can almost now articulate what was the difference and the difference is that there were adults in my life that told me I was going places and there were no adults in my brother’s lives who told them they were going places,” remembers Gutierrez.
Seventeen year old Tyrone is one of MCI’s success stories. He lives in Liberty City and has been in a MCI youth program for a few years.
“Sometimes when I lay down, I hear guns being shot. I can hear it when I’m sleeping,” Tyrone describes the neighborhood in which he lives.
This year he’s had a lot of firsts – first suit, first tie and first paycheck.
He takes the bus to a place where everyone knows his name – the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s Office where his co-workers call him a superstar.
Tyrone is one of 34 students in an MCI youth program placed in an internship position.
Deputy Mayor Russell Benford says, “It takes experiences like this for them to relate to us and open up a world of opportunity for them.”
Tyrone is aware of just how much the internship has changed his life. It’s the kind of opportunity Cecilia Gutierrez fights for every day
“We are the ones that are going to make sure that this community has a different future than it has had in the last bunch of decades,” said Gutierrez.
Tyrone said this is the first time in his life that he has seen a new future for himself.
“First time I actually started thinking about the changes I can make in my community,” said Tyrone.
Miami Children’s Initiative has a community center in Liberty City. They are always looking for resources and volunteers. They are currently gearing up for their annual fundraising event called “Over The Edge” where they ask people to raise money.
If you want more information on MCI, how you can get involved or if you want to help raise funds by participating at their event, click here.