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Help Bridgeport youth turn away from violence

Help Bridgeport youth turn away from violence

Community Bridgeport, CT
$7,080.00 Of $10,000.00 Goal
Raised by 37 kind people
70% Complete (success)
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  • Started October 4, 2016

    Created by Oriana Kateri

    532 Facebook Friends.
  • Funds will go to

    Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport for Hang Time

Most Recent Donations

Help Bridgeport youth turn away from violence
Help Bridgeport youth turn away from violence

Hang Time is Bridgeport's most unique and successful community program, that is virtually a complete secret to those not involved! Started by former Project Longevity Bridgeport Program Manager Charles Grady in late 2014, Hang Time is changing lives and making our streets safer by giving purpose to ex-offenders and local youth struggling to establish themselves as productive citizens in the community despite prior indiscretions with the law.

Hang Time is run by volunteers; however, We need your help to:

  • Keep hot meals available to all who attend our meetings each week.
  • Fund a trip to Washington DC for approximately 30 of our most promising individuals. For each of these individuals, this will be their first trip to our nation's capitol (and for some, their first trip out of Bridgeport).
  • Purchase equipment and access for recreational sporting and educational opportunities. Most of these individuals have never had the chance to participate in events many of us take for granted, including swimming lessons, ice skating and CPR training.
  • Create a scholarship fund for our top Hang Time participants.

Hang Time's volunteer staff (Oriana Flagello, Charlie Grady, Aquil Crooks and Haley Dubits) with U.S. Senator Chris Murphy.

Aquil, pictured above, started life where most people dare not imagine. Aquil was the product of statutory rape, and born to parents who are both convicted murderers. He was raised by his grandmother who at the time was addicted to crack cocaine. At the age of six, Aquil knew how to package and sell illicit street drugs and was good at it. He lived and violated the law in one of the most violent and dangerous housing projects in Bridgeport. Aquil was shot twice and labeled a “Bloods” gang leader by local police. In 2015, Aquil was released from a 5 year prison sentence for drug trafficking and gang violence. Once back on the streets of Bridgeport he initially felt “I can do this (sell drugs) and if I get caught… I can do prison with no problem”. Before he could get his first bundle, his uncle (a well-known ex- drug dealer and gang member), brought him to Hang Time to show Aquil a better way. While sitting at Hang Time, with one time rival gang members in a remarkably respectful atmosphere, he had an awakening that changed him. Aquil felt a positive and hopeful energy in the room and wanted to be a part of it. Not only has he turned his life around, but today he is a volunteer staff member for the very program that changed him (Hang Time). He also works for an anti-gun violence program called Project Longevity and a neighborhood teen outreach program called Street Safe. Aquil, now a positive community leader, brings Bridgeport “at risk youth” to Hang Time each Tuesday to expose them the same opportunity and positive energy that helped shape his new life. To date he has influenced fifteen teens and young adults to get involved with Hang Time and stay off the streets. Aquil Crooks is just one of the amazing stories of transformation and giving back that occur weekly through the incredible movement called Hang Time.

OUR Cause:

Most individuals that attend Hang Time have a very limited world view based on limited exposure to life outside of Bridgeport. Some aren’t able to be in certain areas of Bridgeport without severe consequences due to inherited neighborhood conflicts and rivalries. Some dare not leave their neighborhood block. Your generous donations will go directly towards changing this for thirty Hang Time participants. We intend to bring them to Washington D.C. to broaden their minds and educate them on the history and freedoms they take for granted each day. Your dollars with help show them that there is more to see, learn and live than the lives and conflicts they’ve known. Many violent acts occur in Bridgeport because of a skewed sense of pride. Individuals feel that other individuals have “disrespected” their girl, family, or their side of town, thus they retaliate with violence. By broadening Bridgeport youth’s world view with experiences and showing them new places and diverse people, we show them that there is more to life than the street they live on. This also illustrates that there is more to life than pride for superficial items and petty battles. These experiences will help them bring new insight back to Bridgeport to create a better future for those that would not have otherwise had the opportunity.

About Hang Time:

The Hang Time program is a tool to give some purpose to ex-offenders and youth struggling to establish themselves as productive citizens in the community despite prior indiscretions with the law. The program strives to push the envelope on building positive social networks, creating social capital and community solidarity. Hang Time brings returning citizens from incarceration, at-risk youth, community leaders, retired and current law enforcement and neighborhood folks together. Imagine 25-40 neighborhood people of all ages, sizes, shapes and colors coming together as a family. Some are in need of food, clothing, and a warm respectful atmosphere to discuss issues of the day while broadening perspectives and opening minds. Topics range from gun violence, community and law enforcement reconciliation, history, and personal development, to current events and recreation. Once a month a different presenter will educate the group on various topics. The conversations are mostly facilitated by the Hang Time program host and result in candid discussions filled with humor while also being sobering and reflective.

Over the past year we have had visits from Assistant United States Attorneys, Former NBA stars, Mayoral Candidates, Legendary Rap Artist, Chief State’s Attorney's Prosecutors, Local and State Politicians, Professors from University of New Haven, Yale University and Princeton University that have all participated in Hang Time and often return for a dose of “Real Talk, with Respect."

The group has seen increasing attendance growth and engagement from 8 regular participants in 2014, to currently 25-40 participants weekly.

Some of the most unlikely encounters between one-time gang members, rivals, police, and everyday citizens happen each meeting without conflict or animosity. It is a proven fact that when individuals are exposed to different cultural and educational experiences it broadens their minds and helps them to change for the better. Our goal is to engage individuals from the city of Bridgeport in positive activities to enrich the daily quality of life. The impact Hang Time has on resolving and preventing local conflicts and violence has been incredible thus far and we intend to continue this valuable work.

Like what you’ve heard? Join our mailing list by emailing your contact information to

Thank you in advance for your donation to help those less fortunate grow and experience a different way of life. You are playing a crucial part in the continued work of Hang Time! Feel free to stay up to date with our work by liking or following us on Facebook and Twitter.

Hang Time's Facebook


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