ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Gangs are a problem here in Albany. The Albany Police Department gang unit makes hundreds of arrests every year. One former gang member who turned his back on his old life is trying to make a difference in the Albany community. As a teenager Anthony Mackey was headed down a destructive path. His father was in prison, and he joined a gang in middle school.
However, when Anthony met John Watson, a youth minister at River Road Church of Christ, his life changed significantly. Today, Anthony Mackey has made positive changes in life and he is now mentoring young people through the Youth Empowerment Program. Anthony Mackey grew up in South Albany where he says there was a lack of attention, parental guidance and domestic abuse.
"I'd seen my step daddy, sometimes attack my mother, he'd say bad things to her, the relationship just wasn't healthy for a young child looking at it from my point of view," said Anthony Mackey, World Vision Youth Empowerment Program mentor.
Mackey decided to join a gang because he says he felt it would bring him the love and the attention he was longing for.
"I joined the gang over here or whatever, we was walking home from school, I think I was like twelve or thirteen, maybe sixth or seventh grade, can't recall it and I was just bored and thinking about hanging out with my homeboys for a while just really wanted to be committed to them and stuff like that because the things that they did I couldn't really participate in because I was like somewhat straddling the fence of whether I wanted to join or didn't want to join," said Mackey.
One day Anthony lost both of his friends, and because of their deaths he fights harder to keep kids off the streets. It is Mackey's firsthand knowledge of gang violence that keeps him mentoring youth on a daily basis
"I just want to encourage you all to just stay in school and keep doing what you doing, and make sure you all keep your grades up on your CRCT and when you all get in sixth grade I want you all to understand you have to stay focus," said Mackey.
Anthony's words of wisdom, understanding, and commitment helps keep the children of Albany off the streets and out of gangs. Anthony Mackey is in the process of creating a Vacation Bible school program through his church, River Road Church of Christ, another way where he is trying to save one life at a time
If you are interested in signing your child up for Vacation Bible school you can call Anthony Mackey at 229-886-7538