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Youth ministry group recognizes first responders with free meal

Following a violent Fourth of July weekend, Young Men Inc. thanked first responders with a free meal
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Posted at 7:13 PM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-05 23:39:54-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The Fourth of July weekend was busy for first responders.

While firefighters from the Indianapolis Fire Department responded to 904 runs, IMPD officers worked to help 15 people that were shot and the families of three who were killed by gun violence.

Those incidents take a toll on first responders.

Young Men inc. wanted to show their appreciation for first responders by providing them with a free meal.

Young Men Inc. is an outreach ministry of Great Commission Church of God, designed to empower African American males, ages 9-16.

While they showed appreciation for first responders through a free meal, they also used it as an opportunity to help kids be more comfortable around them.

"Any time you allow opportunities like this where people can come together, you kind of dial into those fears those concerns and break them apart," Commander Michael Wolley said.

During those conversations first responders are having with kids they discuss what they do in detail.

Police officers also give the kids advice on what they should do if they ever get pulled over, while firefighters discuss fire safety with them.

"We will gladly talk to you let you see the equipment get you an idea of what it looks like and let you see us with our gear on,” Ed Vanvelse an Indianapolis Fire Department Fire Fighter said. “That way, if we end up having to go to a fire at your house you have an idea of what we look like and then not get scared."

These interactions are something that both Young Men Inc. and first responders feel work. For soon-to-be sophomore Jayse Evans, these interactions and conversations have helped change his opinion on first responders and what they do.

"I've seen first responders do bad things,” Evans said. “I always use to think they were bad; I use to think they were bad guys. But now that I am seeing them do good in the community, I am starting to get a soft spot in my heart for them. “

Outcomes like that are what the founder of Young Men Inc. is striving for.

"They all want to go home at the end of the day,” Rev. Malachi Walker said. “Anybody who is pulled over by a police officer they want to go home too at the end of the day. So, this relationship works but we also need to make it work. "

Officers feel fostering these relationships at an early age and having sometimes uncomfortable conversations surrounding violence can be a step toward fixing the problem.

"It's something where we can at least have those conversations,” Wolley said. “Maybe some of the kids here they see something they may feel a little more comfortable having conversations with us. If they have eaten with us before or if they have been at events with us before. So, these are certainly small steps to kind of build towards that bigger picture of reducing crime. "

For more information on Young Men Inc. click here.