By Wakisha Bailey

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group in Philadelphia’s Germantown section is asking neighbors to join them in calling for an end to gun violence. It follows a recent surge of deadly violence in the community.

Every Tuesday, Joe Budd spends his lunch hour with young men at Martin Luther King High School.  

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Although some were distracted, that was OK. 

Because Budd and the men wearing their bright construction orange shirts say they used to sit in those same seats. They’ve earned the respect of the young men and more so they trust them.   

Men Who Care Of Germantown Inc. Mentors Students As Gun Violence Rises In Philadelphia

“So when we come in the school, we’re the orange OGs,” Budd said. “Most of our guys come from the streets.”

Budd started the grass root organization Men Who Care of Germantown Inc. Their mission is to spend an hour every week and have what they call “real talk” a safe space just for students.

“We talk about guns,” Budd said. “We talk about drugs. “We talk about education. We talk about jobs.”

In four years, this group has grown from 15 to 40 students. Although these aren’t mind blowing numbers, it’s a slow process that’s built on trust and consistency 

“Our children have been disappointed so often that they don’t believe that you are going to do what you say,” Budd said.  

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As Eyewitness News spoke with these young men, we were distracted by what was on the other side of a door that seemed to connect to the two rooms.  

In another room during the same lunch hour, it’s ladies only. Budd brought in Jasmine Hawkins who is part of Urgent 365, a group that wants to create a more equitable world for brown and Black communities. 

Men Who Care Of Germantown Inc. Mentors Students As Gun Violence Rises In Philadelphia

“Every day we are helping to close the opportunity gap,” Hawkins said. “Just some of the things they experience at such a young age can sometimes be very heartbreaking, especially when you expect them to show up and be a student.”

 Budd said the students need more people who look like them to spend time with them. 

“We had Philadelphia technical training to come through to talk about jobs, “ Budd said. 

It’s an hour that could change a life forever.

On Saturday, the Men Who Care of Germantown are calling on the community to join them for their “Reviving The Village Peace Walk & Fair.” 

Men Who Care Of Germantown Inc. Mentors Students As Gun Violence Rises In Philadelphia

It’s a call to put the guns down. The walk begins at 9:30 a.m. at Roosevelt Elementary School, and it ends at Martin Luther King High. 

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There will be resources for students, the community, even free haircuts.

Wakisha Bailey