Last week was a week of violence in the City of Albany and this weekend the violence continued, this time hitting us even closer to home.
We are saddened to announce the tragic passing of Outreach Worker Elijah Cancer. Elijah was gunned down after trying to mediate a conflict in the South End of Albany, in the early morning of Saturday, July 7th. Elijah is a long time resident of the South End and held it dear to his heart.
Although Elijah was only on the SNUG team since October 2017, he was recently named SNUG worker of the year at last Saturday’s March for Peace. He successfully mediated conflicts and assisted several schools in the area with safe passage for students who may have felt intimidated throughout the course of the day. Like most SNUG workers Elijah had a checkered past which he was working hard to change. His favorite saying since joining SNUG was “every thug needs a SNUG.” Elijah was a hard worker, devoted father of three beautiful children, and was a member of a local church that he attended every Sunday.
His loss is a major blow to the community, our SNUG and Trinity Alliance teams, and most importantly his family. We ask that the work that Elijah was doing carries on and becomes infectious to others. We ask that everyone keep his family in your prayers and give them the needed space and time to heal.
Albany 518 SNUG will remain diligent in the work we do by conducting conflict mediation, preventing retaliations to shootings, and redirecting the lives of the high risk youth we work with on a daily basis. We will remain professional in our roles, and will look to the community for continued support to make the City of Albany a place we all like to live, work and play in. Elijah’s death will not be in vain.
— Jerome Brown, Albany 518 SNUG Director
For those who may be unaware, or curious about the Albany 518 SNUG and LLTY SNUG anti-violence programs, run by Trinity, we’d like to share the following programmatic information. Our SNUG programs work to engage those at the physical and social epicenter of violence, by redirecting them into more productive lifestyles, preventing retaliation. The Albany SNUG program began in October 2010, followed by Troy in 2015. Trinity Alliance works closely with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services in regards to certifications, training and implementation of this vital anti-violence program, including, but not limited to, conducting random drug testing of our SNUG and Trinity staffers.
Our Outreach Workers lead by example and earn the trust of our participants by showing them that a violence-free lifestyle is desirable. Our two SNUG teams conducted a total of 132 mediations in 2017 – working with some of the most “at risk” individuals to help quell violence. In 2017, the City of Albany suffered 8 shooting fatalities, while Troy experienced ZERO shooting fatalities within our target area. Without those interventions and mediations, these senseless deaths could have been much higher. In 2018, our SNUG teams have conducted more than 50 mediations. Our teams have Emergency Room access at local hospitals, and are called in when a shooting occurs to mediate the confrontation that can lead to retaliation. We also partake in community canvasing, as well as hold well-attended community family events throughout the year, where neighbors can meet neighbors.
Our SNUG program participants are able to utilize all of Trinity Alliance’s wrap-around services, so that we can “treat” the whole person. This includes High School Equivalency classes, after school care for children, workforce development to secure employment, parenting classes and anger management. Our dedicated Outreach Workers are often the catalyst for change in a person’s life, as they work to break the cycle of violence together. Our programs also feature youth volunteers, working to make a difference in the lives of their peers, while in their most impressionable years.
Update (July 9, 4:15 PM): If you can, please donate to Trinity Alliance’s fundraiser “In Loving Memory of Elijah Cancer” – 100% of your donation will be given to Elijah’s family, in his memory, in support of his three children.