Baton Rouge non-profit, former NFL player aiming to help at-risk youth around the city
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Baton Rouge leaders for years have described crime as a community issue. That’s why a local profit and a former football star are tackling the problem head-on.
Baton Rouge native and Jackson State University alumnus Paul McJulien was a former punter for the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Rams in the early 90′s. He spent years living in different parts of the country, but when he saw the recent issues his city was facing, he felt it was time to come back.
“When I see kids today, and the positions they’re in, and some of the challenges that they face, it’s difficult,” McJulien said.
McJulien returned to Baton Rouge in 2018, but in April 2022 he started working with a group called Empower 225.
The non-profit works directly with teens who are at the center of this violent epidemic within the city.
This includes kids who have committed crimes, survivors, those who are homeless, and those who just need someone to believe in them.
“It gets me emotional to see some of the kids that people have just written off, and when you interact with them, they are the most awesome young men and women that have just been the result of some poor decisions or been in some poor situations or environments,” Executive Director Susan Rogers said.
Rogers and her team offer services and support for dozens of kids. This includes teaching, skills training, employment training and even team building.
“If we can come alongside them and have a young person in our care for 50 hours a week, 60 hours a week, between after school and during school, that we are in a much better position to make a long-term investment in that youth so they can be successful,” Rogers said.
They say it all starts with putting the help directly in their hands.
“It builds success, it grooms success, and it gives you the opportunity to help those kids that need it,” McJulien said.
McJulien said he knows they are changing lives, but he hopes the lessons they pass along will make its way back to the community.
“I want them to take away everything they’ve put into it and be able to share it and give back to those that they can help. It starts here, but it doesn’t end here,” McJulien said.
For more information on how you can volunteer, visit empower225.org or call 225-236-5249.
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