PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group of committed young Philadelphians want to bring change to their communities, block by block. Kevin Morales and Hakeem Ruiz have a mission: to make their block, and every block, the best it can be.
That’s why they’ve helped start The Block Gives Back.READ MORE: 'I Just Have A Nightmare For Her': Loved Ones Of Hit And Run Victim Andree Broudo Still in Shock
“It’s a community organizational group that focuses on community development, leadership,” Morales said.
It was founded in 2015 by some high school friends. Ruiz says they like to call themselves “degenerate do-gooders.”
“We are always ourselves at all times. Sometimes it’s not the cookie-cutter example of what people want us to be but we are still ourselves and we’re accepting of that,” Ruiz said.
The Block Gives Back gives away food throughout the year. They also host community cleanups and street cleanings. They have a yearly school supply giveaway.
Earlier this summer, they held a Peace and Play Day in Piccoli Park.
“Had like a peaceful day. Kids having fun and talking about violence in the city, and how to counteract that,” Morales said.READ MORE: Double Shooting In South Philadelphia Leaves 1 Dead
The nonprofit has a home base in Tacony called The Block Shop, where their biggest program has been youth internships.
“I’m 28 and some of these kids we’re dealing with are 16, 15,” Ruiz said. “We want to know what issues they’re incurring that are things that need to be taught.”
“Primary goal? We love the city of Philadelphia,” Morales said. “So, it’s basically trying to get everyone together and relying on each other building the city that you want to live in.”
The leaders of The Block Gives Back join with city leaders to hold community events, often in communities that might not be as connected to city leadership.
“When we go there with a politician, they’re trusting that politician now,” Ruiz said.
The nonprofit also sells merchandise and takes in donations. They hope to expand their reach to more areas of the city.
“I have two beautiful children,” Morales said. “I want my children to grow up in a great neighborhood.”MORE NEWS: Hunting Park Shooting Leaves 1 Dead, Philadelphia Police Say
Ruiz said they’d like to eventually have a daily program so youth consistently have a place to go and things to do.