Christopher Dehaney started off as a high-risk participant in the S.O.S. Program over a year ago. At first he was very involved with the street life, but after working with our outreach team he started coming into the office regularly. With the assistance of our office staff and AmeriCorps volunteer Micah Weiss, Christopher put together a resume and got himself a job. He lost that job after a while, and was contemplating going back to the streets, but he remained focused on his goals and was able to keep himself out of trouble. Now he has a job working at JFK Airport and because of his demonstrated commitment to the program and the evidence of his changed mindset, Lavon Walker and the outreach team decided to graduate him from the program. Christopher's story is just one example of the effect that the Ceasefire model can have on the lives of high-risk individuals.
How do you feel as first graduate?
It’s an honor, never thought I’d be here. When I first heard of SOS, I thought it was crap. Being in there, I learned new things, and it helped me keep a job, so it was a blessing. I had a job when I came in but it helped me keep that job and prolong what I wanted into the future.\
What did you learn?
I learned that a community can be more than just a hood. We don't have to be out here shooting each other, for us to be killing each other just makes no sense.
What do you do to promote SOS?
With someone like my father, now he knows about the program, he can get in touch with SOS because I'm in touch with SOS. He has Lavon's number so he can sit down with him if he needs to talk.
How do you explain the SOS program to other people?
It speaks for itself. Listen to the word: SOS, Save Our Streets. That's so positive, you can't even imagine that there's so many things to be had in those words. Save: like in a video game, we're going to continue it. Our: it's not just me or you, not just one person, but a community. Streets: so that you can walk around, not having to look behind you or be afraid of being shot.
How do you change your community?
Sometimes you have to do more than just tell people what to do. For example, if you have a dollar, you can't just tell someone that that dollar bill is a dollar, you have to show them what that dollar bill can do.
What message would you like to share with other people?
Stay positive - for every bad thing there's going to be something good after all those bad things that happened to you. God is not going to put too much for you to bear in your life.