A Success Story to Reduce Teen Violence from PA Community Action
A Success Story to Reduce Teen Violence from PA Community Action
Agency spotlights
November 2021 Newsletter
Success Stories From PA Community Action
A Success Story Keeping Teens Safe

"Teen Takeover"

To Combat Youth Violence

 Spotlight on Berks County Action Program (BCAP)

Berks County’s, Stephan Fain, is a Champion for Youth Advocacy in his Community

To combat teen violence happening in his city, Stephan Fains, Berks County Action Program's (BCAP) Community Outreach Coordinator, partnered with the Olivet Boys and Girls Club (OBGC), and interested community partners, activists, and parents to create a program called Teen Takeover.  After two teen girls were shot locally, killing one of them, the community held forums talking about what should be done. Wanting to see immediate actions be taken, Stephan reached out to OBGC’s Deja Harris, VP of Operations, and CEO, Chris Winters, to discuss ways to solve the teen violence problem.

After Stephen’s idea was approved, they started by gathering teens on Saturdays from 11 PM - 4 PM, with OBGC providing the facilities and BCAP, the food. Any teens from Berks County looking for a fun, safe place to go were officially welcomed. Jordan Rodriguez, Director of the Year at the Olivet Mulberry Unit, joined the effort by providing weekly Teen Takeovers at rotating Olivet locations. This amazing team developed their own programming that provides teens the space for a free, fun day. Teens continue to come and go as they please, within some structure, playing basketball, enjoying the computer lab, helping with cooking in the kitchen, or just hanging out in the game room. They are truly free days to do as they please.
Former NBA player Donyell Marshall (center) from Reading, PA visits the teens.
Today, 50 to 100 teens show up every Saturday, with increasing volunteers from the community volunteering to dive in with support. Seleda Simmons, President/Owner of The Real Deal610, which focuses on the self-betterment of members from our community, was one of the first mothers and community partners to help out. Her organization helped three teen takeovers by providing food, and building awareness through games, competitions, and talks. Teens were asked what things they wanted from their community, and what things the community can do better for them.

“To say what Teen Takeover has been to our youth in two words - is a safe haven. From the outpouring support we receive from our community, and the love shown to our youth that is so humbling to witness. For the past six months we have fed, clothed, gifted, supported, and just genuinely been there for over 1000 teens,” shares Jordan Rodriquez from OBGC.
When the Fall Teen Takeover event began, they housed 71 teens on their first day back. The kids look forward to the “no judgment” place, where the staff lets them be free.
Jordan continues, “These teens are our family; they are our tomorrow, and they are our future. We will continue to be their voice when they feel voiceless, and we will continue to provide a safe, fun, and engaging place for them to attend. It has been my honor to be of service to our youth!”
The creators hold weekly discussions on themes, like seafood days, soul food days, and the Super Bowl. Their Summer Teen Takeover location is on Clinton Street, which provides a swimming pool and gym, adding 120 to 200 teens every Wednesday evening. Teens enjoy cookout themes and even Tillman Simms from TLC Fore Golf brought an ice cream truck, allowing every single kid to purchase anything they wanted without limits. TLC Fore is a program that focuses on mentoring, through golf and caddying, for paid caddy opportunities after job training.
Creator Stephan Fains explains, “We’ve had local businesses donate food and baked goods. Two mothers, Jennifer Gonzalez and Brandy Henshaw, held a fundraiser together and raised $1,500 for us. This money allowed us to surprise teens that showed up often, or that just helped out, with things like sneakers, clothes, and slides. Brandy moved to NC but still continues to support us. From March to August of this year, we were able to come together with our community partners and keep over 1,500 teens off the streets without incident.”
CAAP congratulates Stephan Fains for the successful creation of the Teen Takeover program through partnering with the good people in his community.  They have taken action to help reduce teen and youth violence in Berks County.  We applaud your gracious spirit and big heart.
Berks County's Jordan Rodriguez and Stephen Fains

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