On the anniversary of his son's death, Rev. Glenn Grayson joined his family, elected leaders, and the community for the grand-opening of a new Hill District community center created in his son's memory.
"Four years ago today, our family received the worst news that has ever happened to us," Grayson said. "We didn't think we could make it, but we decided to turn bad into good."
Rev. Grayson's son, Jerron Grayson was shot and killed in October 2010 at a post-homecoming party at California University. A student at Hampton University, he had been home visiting his family and friends for the weekend.
The building that bares Jerron Grayson's name will house Rev. Grayson's nonprofit, the Center that CARES, an organization that offers children and adults recreational and educational services.
"I think it's beautiful," said Tanya Shoffner, a CARES counselor, while touring the $2 million center. "It's a really nice vision Rev. Grayson has. It's going to give kids something to do to get them off the street."
The newly renovated center is located in the formerly abandoned building of the Ozanam Cultural Center. That center once served as a space for youth in the community in the same way the Center that CARES hopes their new center will.
"Growing up this was the only place we had to go," said Hill District resident Beatrice McCoy, who says she went to the center as a child in the 70s. "We need somewhere positive for the kids to go today. There's so much violence, parents need somewhere they can feel safe sending their kids."
"I think it's really great for the community," said Sean Farr, who grew up across the street from the center. "It's going to give our kids something to do, not just to keep them off the streets but to educate them."
African Methodist Episcopal Zion Bishop Louis Hunter was with the Grayson family in the time following their son's death. At today's ribbon-cutting ceremony he donated $1000 to the future of the center.
"Anytime I see people, and churches in particular, trying to better the community in which they serve, I have to make a sacrifice to be here and contribute to it," Hunter said.