Atlantic City and Pleasantville are often presented as the worst Atlantic County has to offer.
Shootings, robberies and videoed fights turned entertainment often take the headlines. Or at least, are the headlines of the stories people read and remember.
But there are people out there fighting the stereotypes, and using the negative to find positive outcomes.
Ibn Ali Miller garnered viral video fame when he broke up a fight between two Atlantic City teens being egged on by a group capturing it all on their phones. He used that fame to shine a positive light on his native Atlantic City.
And, while they may not get a sitdown with Steve Harvey, young men like Elijah Kelsey and Deon Davis are examples of the good that the area can produce when there is support and guidance.
Although many want to blame bad parenting for the violence in the streets, often it’s the outcome of a hard-fought battle that was lost.
Behind those tragic stories are mothers like Kellie Cors-Atherly and Ronda Lampkin who have fought to get help when they saw their children going down the wrong path.
Cors-Atherly was told most programs to help her son were for those at least 14 years old. But Todd Mitchell never made it to 14.
He was just 13 when he was fatally shot in Pleasantville.
While she continues to mourn her lost child, she is not ready to give up on saving others.
She started Peace Amongst the Youth for that purpose.
“I’m just tired of seeing these babies die for no reason,” she told BreakingAC last year.
Lampkin lost her son nearly seven years ago in a still-unsolved homicide.
A teenage grandson is now charged with attempted murder as an adult after a juvenile system did nothing to deter him, she says.
She continues to fight for him and the six other grandkids she’s helping raise in Atlantic City’s Stanley Holmes. She refuses to give up.
“The system is terrible,” Lampkin said. “They don’t do anything with these juveniles. It escalates and their behavior gets worse.”
Then there are those helping youth that aren’t their own. The Rev. Odinga Maddox and Mona Tally are two of those helping get juveniles education and jobs though Youth Corp of Atlantic County based in Pleasantville.
While both have experienced loss in their own families, they continue to have hope.
And then there are the friends who join together to make things better.
Indra Lyn Owens and Automne Bennett are best friends intent on empowering young girls into becoming strong women.
Princess Inc. continues to work to find ways to help all women, while helping girls on the right path. With the Jubilee Jumping Co., they show girls how to Double Dutch and feature them in the Double Dutch Chronicles.
Jason Smart-El and James Pressley continue to find ways to join forces and help those in need. And during each event they plan, they continue to ask for guidance for more ways to improve things while inviting others to join them.
“I devote a lot of time to community work because I believe we have an obligation to care for the communities we live in,” Pressley said. “I am a firm believer that if you aren’t doing anything positive to help your community grow then you don’t have the right to complain when things don’t go well. I just want to do my part and hopefully others will be encouraged to do the same.”