SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The motto of the Savannah Impact Program: Building Better Lives.
After an announcement Wednesday, they are hoping to be one step closer to turning the lives of troubled teens around.
Sala Menaya-Merritt was named the program's new director. Just one week in, she is hearing of recent teen violence reports, 12 and 13-year-old's involved in shootings.
Menaya-Merrit says her big-city background will help her in Savannah. She previously worked in Louisiana and two cities in California. One of them, Los Angeles.
In Menaya-Merritt's 20-plus years of experience, she spent time working for various L.A.P.D. programs. She tells us she knows it takes a village and that she is looking for help from neighborhood associations, churches and Savannah residents.
There is no doubt a number of teens are headed down the wrong path given recent violent crime reports. Menaya-Merritt says her program can help them.
"There is a need for community programs. A need for us to get out there and reach those areas where we're having some issues with high-risk offenders. Savannah is smaller, but similar problems - with gangs, drugs, high school drops out and dropout period and high-risk activity," said Menaya-Meritt.
Menaya-Merritt began working as the SIP director last week. In fact, just four days in, she helped out with SCMPD's Slam Dunk Hunger charity basketball game.
If you'd like more information on the program and how to get involved, please click here.
She recently served as the Organizational Development Administrator with Savannah's Human Resources Department. She's also held positions in the public sector with the State of Louisiana's Office of Juvenile Justice, the cities of Hemet and Los Angeles, California.