North Columbia project promotes peace with community action event series

November 21, 2022

The North Columbia Youth Empowerment Initiative (NCYEI) joined Serve & Connect and its community partners to host the upcoming “Serving Up Thanks” series. The events are funded by the Byrnes Criminal Justice Innovation grant from the Department of Justice (DOJ). Serve & Connect was one of 20 grant recipients by the DOJ last year to support the department’s criminal justice innovation efforts to address serious and violent crime issues through collaborative cross-sector approaches that help advance broader neighborhood development goals. “Serving Up Thanks” will span the week of Thanksgiving to promote peace in North Columbia through cooperative action and support.

The first event will bring together the Neighborhood Council of Empowered Residents (NCER) Meeting and Serve & Connect’s Greg’s Groceries program at Gable Oaks Apartments on Monday, Nov. 21, from 5-7 p.m. The meeting will promote dialogue centered on food access and creating a path to peace. The Columbia Police Department will also host a Greg’s Groceries packing event.

The second event will be on Tuesday, Nov. 22, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1003 Colleton Street, Columbia, SC 29203. NCYEI will host the “Serving Up Thanks” Resource Fair + Harvest Hope Food Bank event in collaboration with community partners, including Belmont Community Association, Gable Oaks Apartments, New Jerusalem Interdenominational Church (Harvest Hope Food Bank agency) and the Knowledge is Power Coalition. Attending resource/service providers include: CAN Community Health, Pathways to Healing, Moms Demand Action & the Survivor Network, LRADAC, SC Thrive, DMH Columbia Area Mental Health Center, Prisma Health, Cooperative Health, Dominion Energy’s Customer Assistance Outreach, Senior Resources, and Richland Library.

The series’ final event will be held on Thanksgiving Day with a “Serving Up Thanks” Thanksgiving meal delivery from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Neighborhood residents and volunteers are invited to join NCYEI in coordinated Thanksgiving meal delivery to members of the 29203 community. Meals for “Serving Up Thanks” will be provided courtesy of The Village at Southlake independent living community in Lexington, SC and Cooperative Health.

“The holidays mean celebration and abundance for many, but not all of us. Together, we can support, inform, and uplift our neighbors in need right where they are,” shares Erica Staley, Serve & Connect’s North Columbia site coordinator. “The most meaningful part of “Serving Up Thanks” is the chance it gives us to show up for each other as one community – not just in what we say, but in what we do. We’re thankful for the ability to serve, the dedicated partners alongside us, and the opportunity to show our community that we care.”

As an extension of Serve & Connect, the NCYEI continues the organization’s mission of coordination and strategic alignment among groups already making a difference in the lives of North Columbia’s neighborhood children. Together with community leaders, Serve & Connect has focused on bringing positive change through sustainable police-community partnerships in North Columbia. The evidence-informed work conducted in North Columbia has led to an expansion of similar programs in Kershaw, Lexington, Fairfield and Orangeburg counties.



The North Columbia Youth Empowerment Initiative was established in collaboration with the Columbia Police Department, Richland County Sheriff’s Office, Serve & Connect and community leaders to foster police and community partnerships that empower the lives of neighborhood children and youth in the 29203 region.


Serve & Connect is a Columbia-based nonprofit that works directly with law enforcement, community stakeholders, and citizen leaders to address root causes of crime and promote safety so everyone thrives. For more information, visit