SAN ANTONIO – The goal of Stand Up SA is to bring down gun violence in targeted areas of the East Side and diffuse confrontation through talking things out rather than pulling the trigger.
Lydia Hernandez lives on the East Side and lost her nephew in a shooting.
“My nephew, my sister's only son, he was shot down,” Hernandez said.
Her family is one of the many families that have been effected by gun violence.
It’s neighborhood residents like Hernandez that Stand Up SA works with to bring down gun violence.
Program manager Derek Taylor said since Stand Up SA started in 2014, shootings have gone down in their targeted neighborhoods. He said one way was by hosting community events in the summer when there is usually a higher crime rate.
“Every month, we did something to engage in the community to come outside and also just engage with other people get to know each other,” Taylor said. “During those months, shootings reduced by 50 percent.”
The program is now getting more funds to support its cause.
This week, the City Council approved $70,000 to bring a case manager on board to help residents and its 11 outreach workers.
The case manager would help residents with things like getting back into school or getting their GEDs, helping them apply for certain assistance programs or apply for employment.
The outreach workers live and have history in the neighborhoods on which they they focus.
Taylor said their job is to diffuse situations by talking to residents who have either been involved in gun violence or have the potential to be involved in gun violence.
“They can go ask certain questions from certain individuals and get a response better than sometimes SAPD would (give), because the understanding is we are not there to arrest anybody,” Taylor said.
Stand Up SA said since 2016, outreach workers have diffused an estimated 100 conflicts a year, and that number has continued to increase year-by-year.
The outreach managers also stay in touch with the community by speaking to teens who live on the East Side.
Taylor said the key to success is the trust the workers are building in the community.
“My staff couldn’t do what they do without that level of trust, so whatever they tell my staff, it stays within house,” Taylor said.