Better Family Life | St. Louis Public Radio

Better Family Life

Deborah Ruffin speaks to the press about Clean Sweep and the effort to clean up her Hamilton Heights neighborhood.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

A grass-roots effort to clean up some north St. Louis neighborhoods is holding an event this weekend.

Clean Sweep will tackle the Hamilton Heights and Wells Goodfellow neighborhoods and parts of the city of Pagedale, in St. Louis County, on Saturday. Better Family Life and Habitat for Humanity organized the effort, the second such clean-up event.

Painkiller
Tom Walker | Flickr | http://bit.ly/22McgqC

Last year set a record for the number of drug overdose deaths in the St. Louis region, most of them opioid-related. Gun violence has also long been a problem in St. Louis. Although there’s no evidence to prove the rise in the prevalence of both issues is related, the solution to them is interconnected, advocates say.

Volunteer counselors Dr. Marva Robinson, left, and Adrian Wrice discuss a case during drop-in hours in the basement of the New Northside Missionary Baptist Church.
Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

In the basement of the New Northside Missionary Baptist Church, clinical psychologist Marva Robinson meets with people who know of a conflict that may escalate to violence. She trains her ear to signs of previous trauma or emotional instability. The next day, she starts making calls.

“We start the next day, with trying to make contact with individuals to see how we can have a conversation about the conflict in ways that we can resolve it,” Robinson said.

Shelia Price marches against violence with her grandchildren Saturday, March 19, 2016 in north St. Louis. Her son died from a gun shot 20 years ago.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Last year, black-and-white "We Must Stop Killing Each Other" signs began popping up in yards across St. Louis.

The organization behind the signs, Better Family Life, had just received $55,000 from the city of St. Louis to continue its efforts to reduce violence in targeted city neighborhoods.

Erica Jones, right, and Theodis Rush, left, listen to a press conference to announce more money for an anti-gun-violence program run out of Better Family Life. Jones’s 24-year-old daughter, Whitney Brown, was killed in a drive-by shooting in August.
Nassim Benchaabane|St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday morning, St. Louis detectives began work on the city’s 145th homicide case since January. The body of a 25-year-old man was found in a car with multiple gunshot wounds in the Mark Twain neighborhood, an area less than two miles square that has already experienced six murders in the past nine months. 

James Clark of Better Family Life speaks at a news conference in the mayor's office on March 19, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is increasing its funding for a local agency’s initiative to shift the culture of St. Louis’s most dangerous blocks away from violence.

Better Family Life is getting a total of $55,000 from the city’s public safety fund for its Neighborhood Alliance program, which puts outreach specialists and case managers in the neighborhoods to connect families to resources and teach conflict resolution.

Michael Brown Sr., shown here from the rally held a week ago, appealed for peace on the day of his son's funeral.
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

(Updated at 9:12 a.m. Monday, August 25)

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's spokesman says Nixon will NOT attend Monday's funeral "out of respect for the family, who deserve time to focus on remembering Michael and grieving their loss."

Our previous story:

The parents of Trayvon Martin joined Michael Brown's father on stage Sunday evening in Forest Park, to speak at Better Family Life’s annual Peace Fest.

Nora Ibrahim

On the 159th anniversary of Mary Meachum's attempted crossing of the Mississippi River — from what was at the time the slave state of Missouri to the free state Illinois — St. Louis residents, local groups and officials gathered at the crossing site to announce plans for a permanent monument. For many of those who attended, it marks 15 years of hard work to get the site more widely recognized. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When Edward Spann first heard about the Men on Deck tour, he had no idea it would mean beginning his day at a jail and ending it with an undertaker. These were among the extreme destinations that he and other young men journeyed to discuss the consequences of making good or bad choices in life.

In addition to visiting a funeral home and a jail last Thursday, the men visited the Better Family Life Cultural Center, People’s Health Centers, St. Louis Community College, the New Life Evangelistic Center, and the Father’s Support Center.

This post first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 31, 2008 - A marathon foreclosure counseling session this weekend hosted by Better Family Life, a St. Louis nonprofit, is expected to serve several hundred distressed homeowners in 24 hours, said Maurice Washington, director of the agency's housing program.

And in a sad sign of the times, Washington noted that the event might qualify for a Guinness World Record as the first marathon counseling session of its type.