By Eli Ruiz
MONTICELLO Saturday the streets of Monticello became the scene for something positive as the fledgling My Angel Foundation along with Tishanna McCullough and Rashonda Williams organized an anti-violence march that saw about 120 people of all ages and backgrounds wind their way through the streets of this largest of Sullivan County’s towns.
A town that has seen its fair-share of gun and gang violence in recent years.
The Angel Foundation’s stated mission is to be a resource for youth and helping youth become positive and successful members in their communities. The group promotes education, abstinence from drugs and alcohol, positive alternatives to gang activity and prevention of gun violence.
In July, 2007, 28-year-old Monticello native, and brother to Tishanna McCullough, Shane McCullough, was killed in Port Charlotte, FL, attempting to save his girlfriend from a crazed gunman.
On June 24, 2009, aspiring musician, Carl Williams brother to Rashonda Williams was shot in the head, and killed, outside of the Shore Gardens apartment complex.
In January of this year Caridad Olmo-Wilkerson founded the “My Angel Foundation” in honor of her brother Angel M. Olmo, who was shot dead in August of 2011 in Syracuse.
Janette Williams, mother of Carl Williams, said, “I did an anti-violence march in October, 2009, after Carl was murdered. It was called ‘A Call for Change,’ and after that my daughter Rashonda and Caridad got together and Caridad went ahead and founded My Angel… she’s [Wilkerson] done such a fabulous job with this.”
Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins was in attendance and said, “a lot of what’s going on here has to do with the lack of jobs… we need jobs out here.”
“I would love for more of the local leaders to work with the Mayor to help remedy these issues and create more jobs for our youth,” added Jenkins.
Sullivan County District Attorney Jim Farrell took part in the march, and said of the event, “I think it’s terrific that the community is engaged and dedicated to stopping the violence… its got to stop before we lose any more fathers, sons and children.”
As Monticello police escorted the marchers from DeHoyos Park and through the streets of Monticello the marchers chanted loudly and repeatedly, “Stop the violence, stop the hate!”
Marcher and County Legislator Cora Edwards said, “I think the whole gang violence thing in our community is a huge concern. I think that we as a community can do a lot more to help our youth and give them other options.”
Before making a right into Osborne Street, the marchers made a stop at Shore Garden Apartments at the very spot where Carl Williams was found murdered in the late hours that summer night in 2009.
After a moment of silence, Janette Williams addressed the marchers saying, “My son was shot in the head and left to die alone over a necklace… the worst thing that can happen to a mother is to lose a child… to lose a part of yourself.
“It’s time to stop, young people… It’s time to stop,” continued a visibly shaken Williams.
The marchers continued on through the pre-determined route to the court house on Broadway and then headed back to DeHoyos Park via Rt. 42 where DJ Ali Toro and his No Choice Entertainment kept the music going and the crowd dancing.
Toro donated his services and heavily promoted the march.
Before the grill was fired up, Mayor Gordon Jenkins gave a short speech to the crowd, saying, “What we need to do is create jobs and put our youth to work.
“Maybe the next march should be called `March for Jobs’ . . . Stop the violence.”
Asked how she felt about the day’s turnout, Ms. Olmo-Wilkerson said, “It was great, it was beautiful. I’m really happy the community came together like we wanted. I’m really really happy.”
For more information on the My Angel Foundation call 798-7637 or go to www.facebook.com/myangel78