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Anti-bullying group sends 2 to college

Keeshira Freeman, left, and Ja-Mira Smith, left, stand with National Stop Bullying director Robert Harris after being named the Mary Eva Howard College Initiative recipients Saturday afternoon.

WARREN — The National Stop Bullying Organization worked in partnership with Eastern Gateway Community College to send two people to college.

Keeshira Freeman and Ja-Mira Smith, both from Warren, will be attending Eastern Gateway as the recipients of the Mary Eva Howard College Initiative. The initiative essentially means the two will be attending school and will only pay $1 per credit hour.

Howard, who was the organization’s national student representative, died after being hit by a car in Erie, Pa. The director of the organization, Robert Harris, was not only her mentor, but her grandfather as well.

“Because of Mary dying, somebody else will be able to live a better life,” Harris said.

Both Freeman and Smith will be attending school to become registered nurses, but for Smith, the reason to enter the field is personal.

“I hear stories about how some people’s family members just put them in a nursing home and I see how people get treated in nursing homes,” Smith said. “I just feel bad for them.”

Freeman already had thought about traveling for her nursing program, but thanks to Harris and the organization, Freeman will be able to stay in the area and get her education at a fraction of the cost, which she called a “heavensend.”

The two were selected out of a pool of approximately 20 possible candidates.

As for the organization, it primarily focuses on putting an end to bullying.

According to Harris, the organization goes nationwide giving workshops to schools, community centers and libraries to teach children, families and administrators about bully sensitivity, anti-violence, homicide and suicide prevention, gang violence intervention and things of that nature.

“We started the Youth Prison Prevention Program in 2010, and in 2015 we latched onto the Stop Bullying program and never let it go,” Harris said.

Harris is asking anyone who wishes to help out as either a sponsor or to donate, to contact 716-559-5525.

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