Positive Vibes launches hotline to curb youth violence, foster community support

Published: Nov. 5, 2023 at 10:50 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 5, 2023 at 11:27 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Nonprofit Positive Vibes Ronjanae Smith Inc. has opened its doors to a new initiative dedicated to deterring violence among North Charleston youth.

A special hotline was launched with the intention of meeting the community right where they are.

“Interrupt the crime,” Pastor Thomas Dixon says. “Deal with the crime according to the trauma that those who perpetrate the crime are dealing with.”

The movement is part of a “boots on the ground” approach to not only disrupt violent patterns in the community but transform it into new life.

“We want to save all these young men, but we know we aren’t going to be able to save all,” Founder Ronald Smith says.

Smith started the organization as an ode to his daughter, Ronjanae Smith who died in a mass shooting two years ago.

Ronjanae was 14 when she passed, and the suspects arrested in the incident had ages ranging from 18-21.

Smith says this was a way to redirect his anger into hope for future generations.

“I lost my daughter and that kind of twisted me. I wanted to crash out. Why not change your life to the best? Why not the opportunity to do the right thing?”

The group works to provide resources for young families, helps transitioning for the incarcerated and works with law enforcement to create community partnerships.

The event held at Positive Vibes headquarters on Reynolds Avenue saw speakers and supporters from local and state leadership, national personalities and a handful of community members close to home.

These included Representative Deon Tedder, City of North Charleston Mayoral candidate Reggie Burgess, City of Columbia Representative Trevon Fordham, Charleston-based Publisher Alfred Adams Jr. and Reality Personality Mendeecees Harris.

After each speech, community members had the option to participate in a Q&A.

One guest was a 17-year-old who was faced with an obstacle and given a “second chance” to turn his life around.

“I was charged with possession of a firearm and also some drugs,” DJ Taylor says.

Taylor adds he was able to rewrite his path through mentorship opportunities at Positive Vibes, maintaining a 3.8 GPA and acceptance to Newberry College.

He says he was Ronjanae’s classmate and wants to see change in her name, along with the other young lives lost to violent crime.

“It hurts a lot to see what the family going through. It’s traumatic. And I’d hate to go through the same thing.”

Officials say it’s a problem that needs to be addressed by digging deep.

“Police deal with symptoms to a larger societal issue,” City of North Charleston Police Chief Greg Gomes says. “When the police are called, we’re dealing with things that have transpired for years to get to that point.”

Smith adds it is only the beginning of what he hopes to accomplish.

“Took from the community so much, why not give back to our communities? We’ve got to give back some time, people.”

The hotline, 1-877-334-6837 is officially active.

Positive Vibes says they are continuing to offer services to those who need them.

For more information, click here.