TheGrio’s 100: Larry Camel, pastor patrolling against violence

Pastor Larry Camel could not sit idle when his small city of Saginaw, MI saw 17 homicides in 2007. With the help of police, local leaders and other pastors, he formed the community watch and support group, Parishioners on Patrol, which fights crime by inspiring good deeds, diminishing the overwhelming number of homicides to a record low of three in 2010.

Chiefly, the Parishioners on Patrol working for increased intervention in wayward youths through recreational, educational and employment opportunities the community isn’t providing. To do this, Camel and other volunteers are teaching illiterate residents how to read, distributing food to the hungry and mentoring teens through after-school programs and job-placement services. Saginaw police and politicians recognize the pastor as the catalyst for the city’s improvement and have awarded Camel the Key to the City…twice.

Larry Camel is making history … in his community, enabling disadvantaged and desperate populations so that they might have a brighter future. Never before has the city of Saginaw had a citizen serve as such a deterrent against crime and violence.

What’s next for Larry?

Parishioners for Patrol are redirecting their focus to an even younger generation, so that the crime problem can be not just addressed, but prevented. The pastor and volunteers are visiting schools to sit, eat and talk with students during their lunch hours, to encourage students to open up and discuss their issues in a comfortable, social setting.

On black history …

“I celebrate the black experience and black history in my walk of life everyday by teaching people about the great leaders who have laid the foundations for us to follow, and to see the faith that they had to step out and make a difference in the communities in which they live in,” Camel told theGrio.

In his own words …

“Through faith, we’ve been able to do many, many things in the community,” Camel told NBC’s Mid-Michigan affiliate in 2010.

A little-known fact …

According to the FBI, Saginaw ranked as the number one most violent city in America based on statistics from 2003 through September 2010.

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