NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Fighting crime doesn’t always mean more police or harsher sentences. In fact, getting to the root of an issue can impact a community and its people for the better.
It’s happening in one pocket of North Nashville. The idea was born between a set of brothers. They live in that community, and it’s now their calling to reach young men through their apprenticeship.
Maple Built, Will and Schuyler Anderson’s non profit, is a six-month woodworking apprenticeship for high school age boys. They build skateboards, cutting boards, and furniture out of their business, Salemtown Board Co.
On the outside, there’s a brick and mortar building with skate ramps in a part of town you may not know much about on Buchanan Street. Flip the switch and look inside, and you’ll see opportunity for outreach.
“What we heard over and over again was concern for the young men in this neighborhood,” said Will Anderson.
The brothers know the ins and outs of their community and are fully aware of the perception and pitfalls.
“There are plenty of people that would look at our city and country and say, ‘Oh, we have a gang problem.’ Anywhere where there’s a gang, yes, that’s a problem,” Anderson said. “I don’t know about you, I was never at risk for gang involvement. Part of that was because there was a small army of invested men in my life.”
Anderson’s idea started with wanting to be a good neighbor and to provide that positive influence these kids may not have.
He says crime creeps in when their circumstances start to pressure young people.
“We’re taking things off the table that may be dangerous future situations,” explained Anderson.
Anderson says he’d much rather give them this kind of test, not one that offers the choice to join a gang.
“We can, at the same time, have compassion and say, we can realize, they’re taking a different test than we had to take,” he said.
Pay attention to their stories, watch them work, and learn, Anderson says, and invest in these youths.
“We try to look at the young people that live in this neighborhood as the incredible opportunity, not just the dirt that’s underneath their house,” he told News 2.
It’s their mission, a sturdy one, on a firm foundation. Click here for more information on the Maple Built nonprofit program.