(Memphis) On Joy Lane Road near Airways, an open house ceremony is held for what will be a temporary new home that will house 200 young boys who’ve already traveled down the wrong road in life.
Sharon Paige, the president and CEO of Damascus Road Residential Center said, “It’s a new concept in our need for children services. We are filling a gap, if you will, for some of the child services agencies.”
Paige says the center will accept young men between the age of 12 and 17 who were brought to them by police for minor offenses and it’ll be the largest of its kind in the state of Tennessee, but the center’s main goal is to be an alternative to Shelby County Juvenile Court.
“We find that these children, through research, enter the system and just go deeper and deeper and deeper into the Criminal Justice System. We don’t want that to happen,” Paige said.
With the help of the faith-based community and volunteers, Paige and her staff have converted an old nursing home into a place with warm, colorful dorm rooms, a computer learning center, and recreational areas.
It’ll also be staffed with law enforcement, along with social and residential workers stressing to young men the importance of academics and having a spiritual life.
Rev. Carl Williams is pastor at Promise Land Church in Memphis, “We care about the young men that are being put into the justice system unnecessarily and trying to keep them out and reeducate them to a better walk and a better lifestyle.”
“It’s a community hug. It’s the community taking back its children.” Paige said.
Paige says Damascus Road will work with Juvenile Court and the Department of Children Services.
The center plans to open its doors next month.