Dream Center building strong community while cutting crime

A shiny coat of paint, securing a brand new carpet and adding a personal touch. Those were the last steps of volunteers with the North Charleston Dream Center who finished their 5th home makeover for a lucky family, Tuesday.

But they're not just renovating and updating houses, they're building long lasting relationships that they believe are also making a positive impact on crime in the area.

"I think we're touching the community a lot," said Dream Center team leader Tony Wesby.

Since the center started to reach out to the North Charleston community, Wesby has been a key component to their mission.

The Dream Center and it's volunteers are working hard to make North Charleston neighborhoods a safer place to live and play.

Tuesday, Wesby and a team of workers finished a home make over for a family who live on Sumner Avenue off of North Rhett.

Wesby was joined by a group from Phos Church based in Centerfield, Kentucky. Robbie Mueller made his second trip back to Charleston on a mission trip with the church to help the Dream Center with the project and learn from their example.

"Much of what we're trying to learn here we see the Dream Center demonstrating," said Mueller. "We hope to take it back to our own community and out into action."

Mueller is talking about not only the community works aspect of the Dream Center but also the impact it's having on crime in the North Charleston community it serves.

"Crime has dropped down," said Wesby.

One Saturday a month Dream Center volunteers spread across 16 blocks in hopes to build a stronger community.

"We just go out and build relationships," said Wesby.

Two of the neighborhoods they cover are Charleston Farms and Ferndale. Both areas have a crime ridden past that the Center wants to turn around.

The group referenced an online database of North Charleston crime stats from January to April over the last three years. During those months, the Dream Center focused on drug arrests, aggravated assaults, and weapons violations to track because of their pre-existing volume in the area.

Since 2010, all three of the crimes have dropped in number by more than 70 percent in both neighborhoods.

The Dream Center says a lot of credit for the decline of crime in the area should also go to North Charleston Police Department and the STAND program, which helps guide non-violent criminals into job programs instead of jail.

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