Meet Group Violence Intervention (GVI) Coordinator, Michael Wilder
My name is Michael Wilder, I was born and raised in Chicago and I am the Group Violence Intervention Coordinator for The City of Kalamazoo. I did not start out with such a prestigious title. Try Career Criminal! Three trips to prison. My future was as bleak as the desert. However, God had a different plan for me. After three trips to prison I enrolled in college. I graduated from Kalamazoo Valley Community College with a degree in Political Science and the rest is History! I am a man of God, a devoted husband to my beautiful wife Dominque and father to my children. I am also an educator at Covenant Academy. I co-founded Peace During War with Yafinceio Harris, an organization to help youth find their purpose and turn their experiences in the streets into something positive. Yafinceio and I were once rival enemies in the streets, but we now run this organization together, doing awesome work in our community.
Follow my story on Facebook. Peace During War.
Meet GVI Social Service Coordinator, Pastor Esteven Juarez
Esto’s journey to Urban Alliance is far different from everyone else’s, as he is a product of over 15 years of pursuit by our Outreach Initiative. During his teenage years, Esto founded and led a gang in the Edison Neighborhood, during this time he made many decisions which nearly landed him in prison for life. Esto shared this, “my life was a mess, the options at that time were life in prison or eventual death due to my choices. However, the Lord had a plan for my life and led me down a different path filled with light, life, and joy.”
Esto is now the Director of the Urban Outreach Initiative at Urban Alliance, this is what he has to say in regard to why he does this work. “I remember the times in my life where I was broken, lost and without direction. But, there was someone that continually showed up in my life, someone who loved and cared for me.” Esto believes that through his position he is now able to demonstrate that same love, care, and compassion, with the hopes that those he interacts with will find new life and transformation.
Esto has worked tirelessly doing Street Outreach with GVI for many years. He is now the GVI Social Service Coordinator, helping community members to connect to needed resources.
When he is not working, you can find Esto in fellowship with his family and friends whether that’s at the beach or in his backyard grilling.
Meet GVI Supports Director, Chris Pompey
Gadson Chris Pompey joined the Urban Alliance team in April of 2018, bringing many years of non-profit and management experience. He was born and raised in the inner city of Baltimore, MD. Currently Chris is finishing his formal education through Purdue Global University enrolled in the Masters’ of Psychology with a concentration in Addictions. Chris understands the pit of addiction after overcoming his own. He attributes his freedom to his rededication to Christ 15 years ago. Growing up and seeing the devastation of what addiction does to a community has caused a burning desire to see others free. Once a part of the problem he is relentless to help others free from addiction. Gadson shares, “I feel helping others is a calling not a duty.”
When not working Gadson can be found spending time with his family, as he states it is his main priority. Gadson is married with four adult children and three beautiful grandchildren. Gadson also shares that his faith in Christ is the core of his existence.
Meet our Group Violence Intervention (GVI) Street Outreach Team
Meet Rodney D. Atkinson
My name is Rodney D. Atkinson and I was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I grew up on both the North and South side of the City. I’m a college graduate (Social Work). I was introduced to the world of drugs by someone I considered a friend. I served roughly 19 years in both State and Federal Prison.
Upon being released in 2014, I’ve been working at both JBS Industries and “Let’s Talk About It” in a group home. At “Let’s Talk About It”, I’ve been responsible for as many as 5 youth. Individually, I counsel, coach and inspire youth to be thinkers and productive members of their community! I’ve recently joined GVI and I look forward to educating our youth on the laws and severe consequences for their violent actions!
Meet Yafinceio Harris
I was born and raised in Osceola, Arkansas. I work as a Street Outreach Worker for Integrated Services of Kalamazoo. I go out to find homeless people who are sleeping outside or in a place that’s not meant for human habitation (like a house with no lights or running water). I then sign these individuals up for housing vouchers to assist with their living situations. I have five biological children, two girls and three boys. I am also the co-founder of Peace During War with Michael Wilder. Once enemies, we now work together to save youth from losing their lives to the streets, through education and empowerment.
I’m excited to work with GVI because they are passionate about reducing violence in the community. I enjoy being given an opportunity to go out and talk with some of these individuals, telling them about the consequences for their negative actions versus the benefits of more positive choices that can be beneficial for them. Some folks don’t really dream when they’re hopeless and living day for day with nothing to look forward to, but what they already know. I like to help those individuals focus on goals, small ones that will motivate them to curb those negative behaviors and stay dedicated to a future that’s more promising….I love it…the whole idea…and I’m grateful for the opportunity!
Meet Michael Monroe
I was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and moved to Detroit at a very young age. I was raised by my mother and stepfather. During my early up bringing in Detroit, as a teen, I was involved in The Detroit Street Life. This carried over into adulthood. I met my beautiful wife in the early 90’s. However, my life wasn’t what she was looking for in a partner. So, we parted ways for many years.
I had many wrong things going on in my life which led me to prison. While in prison, I made the decision to educate myself, love myself, and grow from the teachings my mother instilled in me at an early age. Christ is my foundation, so I began to build upon a Solid Rock.
My desire now is to reach, teach, and love every child I can. I can’t go back and change my past, nor make up for the time I lost. But I can build a better tomorrow.
I’m a devoted husband, father, and grandfather (Papa as my grandchildren call me). I’m Blessed to be Team Lead for GFS, (Halperns’ Steak & Seafood here in Kalamazoo) and I have had the opportunity to share my story with students at K- College and we still keep in contact.
The rough times that I encountered in life, some was dealt to me, but many I created for myself… I need for every child to know that they are Special, Loved, and Someone!
The same energy that I devoted to the streets, I’m going to devote 20x more into saving a child from making the same mistakes I made….
Through Prayer (my Mother was a praying woman) and devotion, I’m still here.
I was told at a very young age that I wouldn’t live to see the age of 21….that was many years ago, ok?!
I AM a Living Testimony from my past life!
I’m so excited for the opportunity to work with/for GVI. Great things are on the rise through this strategy.
Meet Pastor Michael Stewart
Michael Stewart was ordained an Elder in 2002. He knew as a little boy he would be a pastor. This did not happen until many years later in 2009. Pastor Michael was ordained a commission pastor in the Reform Church of America that year. He is currently the senior Pastor of Vanguard North Church in the Urban Apostolic Network where he serves on the Northside of Kalamazoo. Pastor Michael is passionate about working with the underserved to overcome problems such as violence. He truly believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be the change agent to accomplish that goal.
Pastor Michael has been married to his wife Yolanda for 31 years. They have three children and one granddaughter. Michael Jr., Jamieson, Angel and Jordynn. His favorite scriptures are Philippians 2:5-11.