“There is no need for this, it is senseless,” said Pam Mullarkey, CEO of Project SOS. “It is deplorable that people don't value life, and everyone's life counts.”
Mullarkey started Project SOS, which teaches youth about crime and gangs. She said both are huge problems in Jacksonville, especially for boys.
“Basically, with the gang they miss fathers, they need male mentors,” Mullarkey said. “Our males are so valuable, and we just don't have them in the home in so many cases. So these boys look to each other for that male bonding.”
Mullarkey used to have a former gang member on staff at Project SOS. She said all he needed was love and support.
“This young man dropped out of school in the fifth grade,” Mullarkey said. “He started drinking and drugging at age 10. And he was the leader of the gang by age 13. He had the biggest muscles I had ever seen. Not even in school. But once he found somebody that really cared about him, he changed his whole life.”
Cutting down on crime in the city is no easy task, but Mullarkey said it can be done.
“Every male that is listening to this can become a mentor for another young boy that needs that,” Mullarkey said. “They have to step out of their own comfort zone to do it.”
Project SOS has booklets it gives out to mentors that talk about setting goals, getting prepared for life's challenges and avoiding a lifestyle of crime. The booklets are free and can be picked up at their office at 7845 Baymeadows Way in Jacksonville. For more information on Project SOS, call 904-296-9950 or visit ProjectSOS.com.