The Hope for Youth committee is entering 2018 with a reorganized mission statement and a bevy of ideas to achieve a common goal — positively impacting Longview's young people.
The group, a part of the city's Partners in Prevention agency, first organized two years ago in the wake of high crime, homicides and gang activity that plagued Longview streets.
Group facilitator Shalonda Adams said most crime and homicides have decreased since 2016, and while Hope for Youth can't take full credit, it was a contributor to the change.
Members aren't taking a break, though.
"We're working together as a whole family," Adams said, referring to Hope for Youth's initial purpose of increasing positive activities for young people and decreasing gang involvement.
"This is good, but we've worked on that and kind of met that," she said.
Hope for Youth held its first meeting of the year Wednesday night at Longview World of Wonders children's museum. The members' first task was determining the terminology it will use to form a new mission statement.
"The mission statement should be as sharp as it can possibly be," member Joel Johnson said, "so you can memorize it."
Johnson joined about 15 other residents, young and young-at-heart, in coming up with the statement.
They separated into five groups and pondered more than 20 minutes before yielding 26 key terms such as enlightening, community, guidance, families, lifestyles, stable and lifelong.
Adams and Partners in Prevention program coordinator Lyndell McAllister said those 26 terms will be organized into a statement that guides Hope for Youth in the coming months and years.
The group accomplished more than Adams said she expected.
"We came here with the purpose of a purpose," she said, "but we didn't know we would get to this point."
Organizers said they want to go beyond simply offering activities such as sports and special days at parks and instead focus on steering area youth to positive outcomes.
The group already has taken steps by collaborating with other organizations such as The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Big Pines, Pine Tree PACE and the national Students Against Violence Everywhere movement, Adams said.
Hope for Youth encourages people in the Longview area interested in positively impacting youth to join either by calling Partners in Prevention at (903) 237-1019 or visiting the agency's Facebook page.
Updates also are available through Partners in Prevention's weekly address at 9 a.m. Mondays on Facebook Live.