*Denzel Washington may play one—quite well at that—however, a Guardian Angel can be by your side just the same.
The Alliance of Guardian Angels (The Guardian Angels) remains a volunteer-based organization made up of dedicated individuals who generously donate their time and energy to help protect communities around the world.
A unique feature of The Guardian Angels approach is the group’s inclusion of inner-city youth in the safety patrols. By making young people a part of the solution rather than casting them as a part of the problem, The Guardian Angels empower youth to take pride in their communities and contribute to the safety of their neighborhoods. There are currently more than 130 Guardian Angels safety patrol chapters throughout the world, with frequent additions being made.
Everyday, they receive calls and letters from individuals pleading for help to overcome violence in their worlds regarding bullies, predators and gangs whom are creating an environment of fear and danger in many communities. The calls can be anywhere including schools, neighborhoods, streets, subways and the Internet. The dream of The Guardian Angels is “that all children will enjoy a safe environment in which they can rise to their full potential and develop self-esteem, confidence and pride of accomplishment through a contribution and commitment to society.” Their goal is to motivate parents, teachers and youth to create a safer future through their programs focused on personal safety, civic contribution, value development and cyber security and to serve as a resource for training teachers in violence prevention at higher learning institutions.
2 Save Souls Record Label owner Keith Martin, a previous volunteer with The Guardian Angels from 1980-1981, sought out a similar goal during his service in his hometown of Philadelphia. As a native of Philadelphia, Martin was attending Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and working at a housekeeping maintenance company. He and his family members utilized public transportation riding busses and trains. During that era, crime was at a high especially purse snatchings and gold chain robbery. Those instances caused him to think about how most importantly, his young family members including his nieces, nephews, sister and mother were using these services as well and at risk for danger. This risk became his motivation for wanting to get involved with The Guardian Angels. Martin felt a moral responsibility to pay it forward with the hopes that his family would also stay protected during those peak crimes years in Philadelphia. He mentioned that he is no perfect angel, having been involved in teenage street fights and the like when he was younger. However, he realized that violent behavior could also affect his family and that he should fuel his energy to serve his community and the people he loved.
Martin faced many challenges and opposition during his year of service with The Guardian Angels both from law enforcement and the media indicating the mislabeling of their group to be vigilantes. They feared that The Guardian Angels were dismissive to local law enforcement and taking justice into their own hands, which lead to a lot of backlash from the public and professional law agencies. However, through Martin and other Guardian Angels’ perseverance, the law enforcement and government agencies eventually came around to appreciating or at least accepting their involvement within the community. The Guardian Angels never carried any weapons. He stated, “the way we dressed, and the fact that we traveled in numbers, we were looking like a gang, but a good gang.” As a Guardian Angel, Martin expressed that they were taking the law into their own hands and the phrase that they utilized was “we’re taking our streets back, by force if we have to.” One of his most memorable and proud feelings was when he could see the sigh of relief from the citizens upon their entry to the train. Martin stated, “people would set their pocket books next to them on the train, or read the newspaper, and tend to have a look of relaxation when we showed up.” His value system had been impacted through his involvement with The Guardian Angels as he was growing into young adulthood during his service. After his time serving with The Guardian Angels, Martin took his passion for being of service to others by later joining the Marine Corp and traveling the world by essentially utilizing the same skills—showing up in numbers to protect and create safety in a community. He knows that his involvement with The Guardian Angels helped shape his future for the Marines and being of service to his local community and his country’s community at-large.
As we celebrate and appreciate local equalizers such as Keith Martin, make sure to see Denzel Washington as “The Equalizer” releasing nationwide this Friday, September 26, 2014!
Speaking of Denzel Washington, the actor still finds time to give back to the community and one of the organizations he supports wholeheartedly is the Boys and Girls Club. Below he talks about his involvement with the entity: