ATLANTIC CITY — The Rev. Collins A. Days Sr., pastor of Second Baptist Church, said he has seen things deteriorate in the resort in recent years despite efforts by churches, community groups and residents.
Now, Days, 56, thinks it is time for a new approach.
The plan is called C.O.P.E., which stands for Church Outreach to People Everywhere, he said. The development of the plan came from people who volunteered their time to think about the issues and possible solutions.
“It was birthed out of the needs of the city, all the things that were shutting down,” Days said.
C.O.P.E. is trying to target seven issues — homelessness, education, senior citizens, public safety, youth initiatives, economics and health — that churches, the city and community groups could address by working together, he said.
At this point, these are just ideas without funding behind them.
Days said the approach calls for creating a Turning Point Day Center, where the homeless during the day can have a safe haven from bad weather and boredom, and that would partner with other agencies to provide counseling, mental health services, Veterans Affairs services and more. The center would cost more than $600,000 to establish, including building acquisition, Days said.
The plan also would aim to stop drug use and drug dealing at Brown’s Park, create satellite offices and halfway houses in communities, meet with gang leaders and make counselors available.
There are also youth initiatives, including hopes for an employment training program and a home for abused youth.
Princess Inc., a nonprofit, Atlantic City-based mentoring program for at-risk and underserved teenage girls, is one of C.O.P.E.’s confirmed collaborators when it comes to making its educational and recreational plans a reality. The 15 teen girls who have participated in Princess Inc. have been accepted into 40 different colleges nationwide.
Indra Owens, Princess Inc.’s founder, supports C.O.P.E.
“I think it will be awesome for our community,” Owens said.