ATLANTA -- The Street Groomers have one mission – to clean up crime in the West End community. Haroun Wakil started the organization as a way to give back to the historic neighborhood.
Wakil wanted to make a difference.
He stands at street corners and walks around the blocks before school and after school to look after the kids and make sure they get on the bus safely.
“We come from the streets. And we want to save other young people in the streets,” he said.
Wakil came a long way from his days of standing at street corners for other reasons. He recalls going to jail numerous times and falling victim to a dangerous lifestyle.
“I kept looking for another way out. I was looking for the easy way out. So, I thought selling drugs was the easy way. And it’s not,” he said.
After that realization, Wakil decided to turn his life around. That’s when he started Street Groomers – an organization that patrols the West End neighborhood from criminal activity.
“Sometimes [it’s about] telling these young people you love them. Let them know somebody cares about them, instead of putting them down,” he said.
He wakes up early to walk his routes. People in the community appreciate Wakil’s efforts. Not just in the West End, but also in other communities.
“All over the West End. Bankhead. All over the city. He’s well-known,” a friend of Wakil said.
Wakil said that he will always be a Street Groomer, so kids don’t fall victim to a lifestyle he escaped.
“The way we’re going to save our community is by saving our kids,” he said.