Hartford community and city leaders gathered in Hartford on Saturday to launch new initiatives aimed at curbing violence in the city.
Channel 3 spoke with representatives from 5 local non-profits in the city who said they have a vested interest in supporting the community and strengthening youth.
They said, by doing so, they hope this will have a stronger impact on reducing violence.
The organizations in attendance of the coalition included COMPASS Youth Collaborative, Hartford Communities That Care, United Against Violence, Peace Center of Connecticut and the Wilson-Gray YMCA.
Inside the gym at the Wilson-Gray YMCA on Saturday afternoon, the Community Safety Coalition brought together leaders with a public safety fair to support families.
“Every time that a gun rings out in our street, every time that there is an incidence of violence in our community, it impacts not only those that are involved. It impacts everyone. All of us,” said COMPASS Youth Collaborative representative, Jacquelyn Santiago.
Over the last five years, there have been more than 600 shootings in Hartford, and the number of shootings increased by more than 20 percent in the last year.
“We are in the lives of young people every day. Extending the gaps. We are at schools, courts, prisons in the streets embedded into their homes,” said Director of COMPASS Peace Builders, Dean Jones.
After years of working alongside each other, the non-profits are working together.
“Making sure the community sees that solidarity makes a difference, but it's the quiet work that this team is doing behind the scenes that I think has the potential to change and save lives,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.
Executive Director of the Wilson Gray YMCA on Albany Ave, Anthony Barrett said he would like to see more youth turn to their campsites for safe havens.
“When you can take them out of an environment that they only know and put them in a new environment and you can provide them an opportunity to teach and mentor and build fellowship,” said Barrett.
“I think those are the kind of transformative opportunities kids are really looking for and that's what a YMCA can truly bring to this coalition.”
The Hartford Community Safety Coalition is planning a wide variety of initiatives for next year to support parents and their kids.