Helping youths and young adults make the right decisions in life has become personal to Herbert “Tweety” Anny, a lieutenant and chaplain with the Baton Rouge Police Department.
Anny said it was a poor decision by his 28-year-old son that led to his death last year.
“To experience something so personal in your own life, it really hit home,” he said.
His faith has helped Anny through the difficult time.
“It still hurts,” he said. “But I have faith in God that I know in my heart my son is OK, and he’s with my mother and father in heaven. So now I’m obligated to tell these young men and women to try to make right decisions.”
His son was passenger in an auto accident in which the driver was drinking, he said.
“He was a good boy who made bad decisions,” he said. “I told him to stay away from some of the boys he was hanging out with. But he didn’t listen to me.”
Anny shares his story with other young people in hopes they will listen.
“A lot of times, I think God allows certain things to happen where he would use things like this tragedy to work for the good for the benefit of others,” he said.
He reminds youngsters of the price of poor decisions.
“You don’t know what consequences will follow,” he said. “Regardless of the consequences, it’s going to be something bad if they continue on that route.”
One way Anny tries to help is through the BRAVE program. Anny is the project director for BRAVE, a crime-fighting initiative launched in 2012 in the high-crime 70805 ZIP code.
During a recent town-hall meeting at McKowen Baptist Church, Anny told residents about a new program called Crime Strategy Unit.
While BRAVE targets groups, the new strategy focuses on individuals.
“What the Crime Strategy Unit does is work similar to BRAVE, but they incorporate those other types of criminals beside groups and gangs,” he said.
The new program will initiate in the 70805 and 70802 Zip codes in addition to the Gardere area.
“Those are the three hot spots that the data indicates for East Baton Rouge Parish,” he said. “As the data changes, then we’re going to move as the data shows us. That’s going to take politics and favoritism out of it.”
The program doesn’t target one group but all at-risk youth and criminal elements, Anny said.
“Some people mistakenly identify the program as we’re targeting blacks,” he said.
But he believes that gangster rap music, poverty, substance abuse and a lack of positive role models are factors that have contributed to many problems in the black community.
Before the prominently black audience of about 70 people at the town-hall meeting, Anny and other officials called on the community to get involved in helping the youth. Anny said the Crime Strategy Unit plans to provide tutoring, tuition for trade school education, mentors and counselors.
“Whatever the screening reveals that need is there, we have the resources in place address the need,” he said.
Anny cited funding from a $1.5 million federal grant for 70805, $1.5 million federal grant for 70802, $1 million from a criminal justice grant, $150,000 from the Metro Council and donations to the 501c program.
But Anny said the role of the church and other faith-based groups is vital to the efforts. He said the Rev. Gerard Robinson, McKowen’s pastor and other faith leaders are big supporters.
“I’m encouraged that the faith-based is beginning more and more to come on board,” he said. “We’re taking a back seat to the faith-based knowing that they are critical and most important at the present time to get the community involved.”
The year 2015 has been one of jubilee for the Community Bible Church in Baton Rouge.
“What encourages me the most as the pastor of Community Bible Church is that the church has remained faithful to its name since its beginning 50 years ago,” said the Rev. Steve Foster, CBC’s pastor the past five years. “It is a loving community committed to God’s word and called out by the gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been a blessing for me and my family to step into this legacy and to be a part of continuing it into the next generation.”
One of the culminating events of the church’s 50th-year celebration is a concert by Louisiana native Wayne Watson, a pioneer of contemporary Christian music. Watson, a 12-time Dove Award winner, had 23 No. 1 singles on the Christian charts in the 1980s and 1990s.
The free concert is set for 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, at the church, 8354 Jefferson Highway.
An offering will be taken to support the ministries of Community and Guitar Dreamers, which helps equip missionaries and church workers with guitars.
“Having Wayne Watson join us for a Sunday evening concert is the culmination of this year of celebration. Since his first album in 1980, Wayne Watson has faithfully encouraged and inspired others with his Christ-centered song writing and music. … We are privileged to have him join us for an evening of worship,” said Carlton Jones, a lifelong member of the church and a guitar enthusiast who helps lead music at the church.
“The church began in the mid-1960s as a fellowship committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the teaching of his word. Over the past 50 years, the church has remained faithful to these two goals and has seen many lives impacted by God’s grace both here in Baton Rouge and around the world. This year, we are celebrating God’s faithfulness and remembering the legacy that has been passed down to us by the previous generation of believers,” Jones said.
Faith Matters runs every other Saturday in The Advocate. Terry Robinson can be reached at (225) 388-0238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.