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The Columbia Urban League will hold a press conference on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, at 11 am at 2805 North Main Street to launch its prayer breakfast on Thursday to kick off Operation Safe Haven, an initiative to promote good decision-making among youth.

The prayer breakfast, which starts at 8 am, will be held in David Swinton Campus Center at Benedict College.

The keynote speaker will be Minister LaToya Reed, Director, Program Management, SC Youth ChalleNGe Academy, a career-oriented program for youth between 10 and 18 years old.

Other program participants include Rev. Ed McDowell, City Councilman; Overture Walker, chair, Richland County Council; Rev. Charles Austin, pastor, Village of Hope; and Rev. Dr. Aaron R. E. Bishop, pastor, Grace Christian Church.

Operation Safe Haven is a new initiative by the Columbia Urban League to better connect youth with adults who can help them develop self-confidence and communication and leadership skills.

“These skills are vital in our society today,” said James T. McLawhorn, president and CEO of the Columbia Urban League. “Our goal is to help youth across the community understand the importance of these skills as they look toward their future.”

The prayer breakfast is also a reminder to community leaders of the obligation to constantly reach out to the youth, especially those in challenging environments.

“That obligation is evident in the historical role churches, and faith-based organizations have played in uplifting humanity. Youth recreational programs and libraries have also played critical roles in positive youth development.”


The Columbia Urban League will facilitate the training of leaders at the different sites who will coordinate Safe Haven programs at their locations. The Safe Haven programs will include sessions on career opportunities, positive decision-making, conflict resolution, communication skills, and leadership skills. The Columbia Urban League hopes to provide incentives to encourage youth to participate in this initiative.


Community collaborative partners are the City of Columbia, Richland County, Richland County Public Library, Richland County churches, and faith-based organizations, City of Columbia Parks and Recreation, Richland County Recreation Commission, Columbia Housings, Midlands Meditation Center, law enforcement, Richland County neighborhood associations USC athletic, Benedict College, Midlands Mediation Center and volunteers

For more information, contact James T. McLawhorn, Jr. (803) 929-1040 or Cheryl Humphries (803) 929-1036.

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