Annapolis Housing Authority officials are looking for volunteers to spend quality time with children.
The authority and other groups will conduct a rally tonight at the First Baptist Church on West Washington Street to kick off the program. The rally will begin at 7.
Known as "Each One -- Reach One," organizers say the event is a call to the community to join forces to "reclaim our youth and stop the violence that is killing so many." The keynote speaker will be the Rev. Oscar Brown of the Mount Olive Freewill Baptist Church in Baltimore.
The idea for the program came from Joseph "Zastrow" Simms, who works for the housing authority and the county Office of Drug and Alcohol Programs.
Veta Covert, special programs coordinator for thehousing authority, said the group is looking for people of all ages and races to tutor young people, help them prepare for college entrance exams or just spend recreational time with them.
"We want to make kids feel better about their everyday lives and give them something more meaningful in their recreation time," Covert said. "We've got to help young people get their act together, because if they don't have their act together, we are all lost."
She said the group also is looking for organizations to sponsor kids or families. The First Baptist Church, led by the Rev. Leroy Bowman, already has adopted the College Creek Terrace and Obery Court communities.
Violent crime in public housing and other communities reached an all-time high last year. There were five murders in the city last year and one so far this year.
Simms said the program will help fill a void in the community.
"That's really the crux of our problem," Simms said. "Our parents are afraid to help their kids, and our kids are afraid to ask their parents for help. Our teachers are afraid of their students, andour students are afraid to ask their teachers for help.
"Before, years ago, you would hear about one murder every 20 years. Now it's commonplace," he said. "I'm not going to put it out there on drugs. Weall play a role. I basically believe that our kids want to win. Theywant love, and it's up to us to give it to them."
The rally is also sponsored by the city Office of Civic and Neighborhood Projects and the YWCA.