Petition leads Smith to work with youth

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 30, 1999

A push to get signatures of residents in favor of a youth curfew, and her experiences with her own son, are what led one Natchez resident to found a nonprofit to assist both youth and the elderly.

In 1993, Carolyn Smith began circulating a petition to get 1,000 signatures in favor of a youth curfew. Her interest in the curfew, and youth issues in general, stemmed from problems she had had with her own son, now 21.

She got those signatures and presented them to the Natchez Board of Aldermen. But it was what she saw while gathering names door-to-door that led her to even greater involvement with some of Natchez’s most vulnerable citizens.

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&uot;I noticed that there were other parents having problems with their children, but I&160;also saw that there was a vast amount of elderly neglect,&uot; Smith said. &uot;And I&160;wanted to make a difference.&uot;

So Smith founded After All Inc., a non-profit she now serves as president. The group’s 35 adult members, along with youth volunteers they recruit, take on projects to benefit the elderly, especially those in Natchez’s Ward 4.

Projects have ranged from painting the houses of older people and taking them to the doctor or to buy groceries to organizing a Neighborhood Watch program.

&uot;The number of youth involved in the projects varies, but a lot of times we have more youth than adults,&uot;&160;Smith said.

Now the group is working to expand its offerings for youth. After All already sponsors Halloween hayrides for young people each year and offers tutoring at a local church.

And from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Martin Gym, After All will co-sponsor its first Youth Summit for Natchez-Adams County’s Future. The event will give youth ages 12 to 17 a forum to express their concerns and brainstorm possible solutions.

A luncheon will feature a keynote speech by Carl Davis, superintendent of Natchez-Adams County schools. Breakout sessions will deal with such topics as education and conflict resolution.