Keith Blanchard, Executive Director of The Boys and Girls Club.
Keith Blanchard knows Gainesville has a problem.
“There are 20 registered bloods here in town,” says Keith, Executive Director of The Alachua County Boys and Girls Club. Keith used to be a police officer in Salinas, California, but he decided to move to Gainesville to get away from gangs.
“I don’t want to have to go through that again, but not so much for me, I don’t want other people to have to go through that life, here,” Keith says.
Keith spends a lot of his time trying to raise money for The Boys and Girls Club. Just last year, he presented a proposal to the city commissioners that outlined the immediate need for funding The Alachua County Boys and Girls Club gang prevention program. He showed up to the meeting with a wealth of knowledge about gangs, and he says he even had support from the University of Florida, Santa Fe College, Gainesville Police Department, and Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell. Despite all his knowledge and support, the commissioners dismissed his claims and his anti-gang program and told him he needed more backing.
“We’ve been cut so far back, you know, to the bare bone, that you’re expecting groups like us to work miracles and solve community issues with no money, no funding, no staffing,” Keith says. “It’s just not possible and that is where we are with this economy.”
Keith is an associate producer on our project “Chasing Ghosts: Fighting Gangs in Schools” because he sees this documentary as an opportunity to enlighten people about what happens when you put your head in the sand, and do not address the problems that today’s youth are facing.
Keith moved from one of the most violent places in the U.S. to get away from gangs, only to face the same problem in his new town. He is now fighting them in Gainesville so he doesn’t have to move again. By not funding gang prevention programs programs like the Boys and Girls Club, we leave ourselves open for juvenile crime because these kids have no where else to go.
If you would like to donate to the Alachua County Boys and Girls Club please visit their website at www.myboysandgirlsclub.com