Livingston event aims to curb gangs, drugs

A community event in Livingston on Saturday will feature a petting zoo, car show, carnival and barbecue. Organizers hope it will help make the town a safer place.

“There’s going to be a lot of groups there to help people and others who have gotten themselves out of the gang life,” Police Chief Ruben Chavez explained. “If anyone wants help to turn their life around, we hope they come.”

Livingston police teamed with more than 20 community churches and a dozen area businesses to organize the event, which runs from 1 to 9 p.m. at Livingston High School on Park Avenue.

“The goals of the event are to provide resources to the community and to provide motivational speakers to encourage life changes in those who may be struggling with personal and social issues (such as) drugs and gangs,” Chavez said in a statement.

There will also be many resources for jobs and housing, such as the Housing Authority of the County of Merced, the Merced County Department of Mental Health, Worknet of Merced County, Merced County Rescue Mission, and Catholic Charities of Merced County.

“The event is truly a collaboration that has never occurred in Livingston. Our hopes are that those who don’t think there is a way out can find that path to a better life,” Chavez said. “The community will benefit greatly from lives being changed. The ultimate goal is to reduce the violence associated with gangs and drugs, and make our community safer.”

Chavez said the event is funded by a combination of local contributions and state grant funding, and no general fund money was used.