A group of San Quentin inmates who have “been there and done that” are helping to change the lives of young Richmond men who have landed in prison.
One of its recent activities was a softball game with inmates playing together who would have been enemies on the streets of Richmond.
It was a warm August evening, perfect weather for softball, so the Richmond Project and Trust Fellows met for a friendly game of slow pitch. The Richmond Project started the game out with the first hit and the first run but T.R.U.S.T. prevailed in the end, 10-5.
“Since the start of the Richmond Project, we have seen decreasing rates of crime and violence. The men of Richmond come together to curb the damage and hardcore image they had placed within the community,” said David Monroe Jr., a leader of the group. “…our hope is that other communities will follow in these footsteps as we move toward curbing the violence that is plaguing our entire nation. We are hoping that the Richmond Project is just the pebble in the pond.”
Monroe noted that Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin met with the group in 2007 to gain a perspective on the community’s crime problems.
Nythell (Nate) Collins said, “The Richmond Project is having a big impact in the city of Richmond. The Richmond Project has helped me see that I can be an asset to my community by reaching out to the young men who are living the kind of lifestyle I once lived.”.
“Working with the organization changed my view because we are helping kids as people to stay out of prison,” said Lamone Ellis.
T.R.U.S.T. was launched in 2004 and has approximately 300-400 graduates, reported Darnell Hill.. Most are now leaders and positive role models inside and outside San Quentin.
The organization promotes a positive sense of self-worth by assisting men in developing the necessary skills to reinforce their positive values. It also supports constructive behavior, responsibility, accountability and leadership qualities.
T.R.U.S.T.’s philosophy is that all incarcerated men are valuable human beings who have the experience, skills and power of influence to stop the cycle of violence, drugs and alcohol abuse and criminal behavior. The purpose is to change one’s self, their family and community. T.R.U.S.T. provides a safe environment that allows men the opportunity to purge negative thoughts and behaviors, and re-enforce positive ones. — George Burns contributed to this story.