Kansas City City Council member Jermaine Reed cast the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime’s challenge in succinct terms.
“It’s not that we are looking for a replacement, because Mr. Brooks is someone who is irreplaceable. But we are about maintaining the services that the community wants and deserves. We’re committed to making sure that the legacy stands.” Since February, Reed has been pinch hitting as the interim executive director at Ad Hoc, the group founded by Alvin Brooks.
Brooks turned 82 this month, a milestone celebrated last week at Ad Hoc’s fifth annual Community Guardian Awards. The event raised more than $140,000, Reed said. And while Brooks, still Ad Hoc’s president/CEO, is as vibrant and engaged as ever, the reality is that no organization can survive forever on one person’s charisma. That much has long been known.
Reed fell into the interim role when Bryan Dial resigned. Dial seemed a young Brooks in the making, leading prayer vigils for the past year. Under Ad Hoc bylaws, someone on the executive committee needed to step in, Reed said. And he was the chairman of the board.
Reed said his time in the Ad Hoc office in a shopping area at 3116 Prospect Ave. added to his respect for Brooks and the organization. People walk in for a wide range of reasons, often not knowing where else to turn. Clearly, the group has clout to many families.
Ad Hoc averages 35 calls a month from families touched by murder. Ninety-five percent cannot afford counseling, the sort of behavioral health services that could make a difference. In the last six months, two therapists were added to the two already working with families, said Melissa Robinson, board chairwoman and president of the Black Health Care Coalition.
In addition, a new group, Mothers and Families for Healing and Justice, will join the existing Mothers in Charge. Six people in the new group have been trained to go into the Jackson County Detention Center to work with inmates. Among the goals is reducing violence.
It’s imperative that the new executive director has the skill to effectively reach young black men — the majority of homicide victims and suspects — in addition to organizing others in such work.
Far beyond personalities, Ad Hoc’s most significant role has always been connections. Families to appropriate counseling, tipsters to police and people capable of stopping the reactive violence that keeps the city in endless cycles of murder.
To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @msanchezcolumn