Porterville Step Up Conference

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Porterville and Tulare County leaders will partner to host a second citywide Step Up Gang Conference this week.

The event is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday at Granite Hills High School, 1701 E. Putnam Ave. in Porterville.

The Step Up summit seeks to empower parents and youth with techniques provided by motivational speakers, who will host separate workshops focused around messages targeting youth and adults. Organizers have arranged for a resource fair staffed by community-based organizations, local government agencies and faith-based groups who will provide information to parents and youth. Participants will have opportunities to sign up and volunteer with various organizations in their community.

Richard Ramos of Bakersfield will provide a keynote speech at the conference. Ramos is author of the book, “Got Gangs? - Practical Guidance for Parents/Teachers on a Mission for Gang Prevention/Intervention” and is the co-founder of the Latino Coalition for Faith & Community Initiatives, a national nonprofit whose purpose is to strengthen and expand the capacity of nonprofits serving at-risk Latino youth and families. Ramos’ compelling story of overcoming the obstacles of barrio youth gangs, drugs and violence, and achieving success as a community leader and entrepreneur has propelled him into a recognized voice of leadership.

Supervisor Mike Ennis, who represents Porterville, said concerned citizens, community leaders, community-based organizations, the faith-based community, school officials, city and county leaders, and law enforcement officials have been working tirelessly over the past year to deliver four smaller Step Up events in different areas of the city.

“Tulare County is proud to partner with Porterville stakeholders for the second year to deliver information about living violence and drug free lifestyles,” Supervisor Ennis said. “Having a second citywide Step Up event demonstrates that ongoing gang education and prevention efforts is a priority in Porterville.”

Porterville Police Chief Chuck McMillan said a team approach is the best way to address the gang issue.

“The Porterville Police Department is delighted to be a part of this team, incorporating our school districts, churches, businesses, and all local government organizations who work collaboratively toward the goal of ending gang violence,” Chief McMillan said. “We pledge to continue moving forward with proactive community policing to keep our streets safe.”

Porterville City Manager John Lollis agrees.

“It is both exciting and encouraging to see the collaborative partnership of numerous agencies and organizations of the Porterville community working together toward addressing gang-violence and promoting gang-awareness and prevention,” Lollis said. “And it is especially pleasing to see the community’s positive response and interest to those outreach efforts.”