Youth and Family Development Administrator for the City of Chattanooga Lurone "Coach" Jennings, Sr. said to the Civitan Club Friday afternoon, "I'm just a servant to God and a servant to God's people."
He said Chattanooga Youth and Family Development has five main areas of focus. The first area is education.
Coach Jennings said the Youth and Family Development Department's goal was "developing smarter students and stronger families.
" He said they wanted to "collaborate and supplement what our public schools are doing."
To do this, he said part of Mayor Andy Berke's plan was to "bring education and literacy to the forefront" at the city's 17 family recreation centers.
Coach Jennings said, "We were able to implement our city-wide literacy initiative...At this time, students and parents can go to any of our 17 centers to get the tutoring they need."
The second YFD focus area is leadership.
He believes part of the success they have seen thus far has come from good leadership. Coach Jennings said he enjoyed working with Mayor Berke because of the mayor's belief in "getting the right people in the right place with passion and commitment."
He said Mayor Berke looked for people that "go to bed every night and wake up thinking about how to make Chattanooga better."
He continued, "We want all city workers to not just look at themselves as employees, but as leaders."
The third focus area is career development. Coach Jennings said the city wanted to "encourage students and parents to start thinking of career opportunities."
He said he also wants people to "see work as a positive thing instead of a negative thing...We're trying to break cycles of families who have gone through entitlement programs."
He also pointed out, "Crime reduction has to involve career development."
He said out of the approximately 16 men who participated in the call-in as apart of the Violence Reduction Initiative, four of them now have jobs. Coach Jennings said because these men wanted to turn their lives around, Mayor Berke found companies who were willing to overlook their criminal backgrounds.
The fourth focus area of the YFD is recreation. He said this important because it improves the health of the community.
City recreation programs include Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, Seasonal Sports and Athletic Leagues, Therapeutic Recreation, and Senior Olympics.
He said people come from all over to play softball in Chattanooga. Coach Jennings also praised Chattanooga's senior recreational programs, saying, "We have one of the top senior citizen programs in the country."
He said seniors at the Eastgate Senior Center have games, fitness activities, and even take trips across the country. Recently, a group from the center went to New Orleans.
He said, "These people will teach you how to live and enjoy life."
The last focus area of the YFD is social services. Coach Jennings described this area as "the benevolence arm for the city.
He said, "When people are trying to bounce back and get on their feet, our department serves them."
He said this branch was "not just a handout, but a hand up," saying the YFD provides people in need with job referrals and skills training.
He also said the city encouraged local churches to get involved. He said, "When individuals have needs as such, they also have spiritual needs and emotional needs."