StreetSafe volunteers take to the streets of Boston

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September 30, 2010, 9:23 pm

(NECN: Josh Brogadir) - Nearly two dozen volunteers have taken to the streets of Boston. They are members of StreetSafe and are working to engage with residents at risk. The focus: Gang-related violence.

We're looking at the Mattapan murders through the eyes of Streetworkers, trying to make inroads for opportunities instead of dead ends.

The classy suit may be misleading - but don't think Robert Lewis Jr. hasn't seen the atrocities of Boston's inner core.

One of six kids born to his mother before she turned 23, growing up in housing projects, Lewis said he had 15 chances, and wouldn't want to know what would have happened to him with just one.

His vantage point now - as the founder of StreetSafe Boston, one of the city's streetworker programs devoted to helping kids turn their lives around.

And then came Tuesday's massacre in Mattapan.

Lewis said he had never seen anything like this.

What StreetSafe accomplishes best is stopping retaliation - through the work of guys like Marcus Merritt and Greg Burnett.

Merritt talked about "squashing beef," about hearing both sides of an issue.

Most of the work on the streets is done after day turns to night, when the presence of drugs and gang activity intensifies.

And that work walking the streets, making connections, getting people to talk, is never easy.

Burnett spoke about how the perception is always that they are snitches, but said they are not.

And for now, most of these Streetworkers have turned their attention to Mattapan.

Even helping put a plastic cover over a memorial, with heavy rain on the way.

And so with an unsolved quadruple murder, the StreetSafe role is that of advocate, to be there for grieving families, trying to break down the walls - any way they can.

Funding for StreetSafe Boston is raised by the Boston Foundation - some funding comes from the state, none of it from the city, according to Lewis.

Tags: Boston, Josh Brogadir, Mattapan shooting, StreetSafe
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