“If you’re on probation in Georgia, some are required to do a values certification class. We want to be that training camp for people who are on probation.” — Anette David-Jackson, administrator of the Street Groomers.
The Atlanta-based Street Groomers activist organization is setting to create change at the level where it’s most obviously needed — the streets. Advocating for the homeless, the hungry, the houseless, and the held back, the Street Groomers are aiming to give people on probation a leg up on reintegrating into society with a course that would run over four weeks, requiring one hour every week for attendees. The organization is also crusading for felons on parole with a new class they plan on rolling out this year. Those measures would build on the group’s six-year record of grassroots activism.
The organization was founded in 2015, by activist Haroun Wakil and his brother, Stone.
Wakil grew tired of his life on the streets and decided to create an initiative that could transform not only his life but the lives of others.
Aside from patrolling communities, the organization also feeds the homeless on an everyday basis, all while providing clothing and housing to those in need, organizing protests, and fighting for the safety and future of the youth.
Unfortunately, Wakil, who many described as a “gentle giant,” suffered an apparent seizure and passed away in February of this year.
Stone decided to keep the organization and legacy of his brother going and with just 15 active members, the organization has already served over 25,000 meals per month this year alone. Every second Saturday, the Street Groomers also host a drive in Atlanta’s West End neighborhood that includes live performances, food and clothing giveaways, as well as job opportunities.
This led them to start organizing themselves into street patrol units and begin their community cleanups.
“Being a part of those streets for so long, and to come up out of them and do this, just shows if we can do it, everybody can,” said Stone.
President of the Street Groomers LaQuana “LA Pink” Alexander is a member of the organization who has also come from a background of street violence and witnessed a loved one fall victim to it.
“My brother was killed on the streets, gunned down coming out of a nightclub, and was shot four times,” said Alexander. “So I deal with it personally.”
Alexander and other members of the Street Groomers have turned their pain into purpose and made it their mission to not only feed the West End and surrounding areas of Atlanta but also be a source of overall healing.
“We don’t just service the streets to service the streets. We service their mind, body, and soul,” says Alexander. “We’re changing the mindsets of others we’re coming in contact with.”
The street groomers eventually want to expand outside of Georgia and make the movement nationwide. Until then, they plan to keep their partnership with Reflection of Trinity Food Pantry and put on events such as drives they host every second Saturday.
For more information on the Street Groomers and to find out how you can become involved, please visit http://streetgroomers.org.