COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Dream Tree, a nonprofit in Columbia, teaches about 25 children life skills such as mental health responses, trade skills and financial literacy to help them open doors in the future.
Raymond Hall, founder of Dream Tree, told ABC 17 News the goal of the nonprofit is to give children hope that they can have successful careers instead of turning to violence.
Violent crime, like Saturday morning's shooting, has made concern about community violence grow.
Hall said a lot of the kids in Dream Tree are affected by violence in the community because many of their friends, family or neighbors are involved in a lot of crime.
"What we're trying to do is catch these kids early to prevent them, give them other options, because a lot of these kids, they find themselves in these problems and these situations because they feel hopeless," Hall said. "They don't have options. No one's ever told them that they can pick up a book or trade, other than picking up a gun."
Columbia police have responded to 150 shots fired incidents and 375 shots heard incidents in the past year.
"Our community has changed rapidly overnight, it seems like, and the crime keeps increasing," Hall said. "Too often, I can't put a number on it, and that's the sad part about it, too, when we're losing count."
Watch ABC 17 News at 10 p.m.