Keeping Kids Out of Gangs by Joining Forces

A hole in the ceiling where the game room will be located.

Nicole Ebat

OMAHA(KPTM)--A group dedicated to helping people turn their lives around after prison showed off its new digs today.

Compassion in Action is taking over the old Wesley House on north 35th street. It's been sitting empty for nearly two years.

Other groups that help keep kids away from guns and gang violence are joining them.

"Having us all together is very beneficial because not only can we work together in the similar and different populations that we serve, but we can open the doors to the community to bring those services in," said Teela Mickles, founder and CEO of compassion in Action.

Along with CIA, the building will house the R.A.W D.A.W.G.S Youth Corps, Gang Prevention Program; LITE Mentoring Program; the LEMICK Recording Studio; and Tastefully Done Catering Service.

The recording studio will help teach kids music and give them a chance to record their own work.

The catering company will teach people culinary skills they can use out in the workforce.

There will also be a "state-of-the-art" game room that will serve as a reward for kids in the program.

Mickles said it will give kids a place to go other than gangs.

But before all this can happen, the building needs some work.

There are holes in the ceiling and clusters of leftover office furniture.

"Everything you're seeing now is the before, we expect a serious transition," said Mickles.

She hopes to have the building ready for action by May.

They're looking for volunteers to help with painting and any other work needed.

The group also needs about $300,000 for building repairs and operating costs.

"I believe this is a beneficial time for Omaha as a whole," said Tracie Ward, graduate from CIA and the group's new program director. "There's so much going on and a lot of times people focus on the bad within the community, this is a time to focus on the good. It's going to be a great summer."

Alongside the groups' programs, the building will also be open to the community for movies and sermons on the yard.