IF YOU GO
* What: Stop the Violence Rally
* When: Noon to 3 p.m.
* Where: Westside Recreation Center
Tonya Rooks suffered from a crack cocaine habit for 15 years before getting the help she needed to break free of her addiction.
Now the Westside community leader is working to extend the same second chance to others.
She is hosting College Hill Courts' second annual Stop the Violence Rally from noon to 3 p.m. today.
"I'm expecting a big turnout," Rooks said. "When I tell you Tonya Rooks is a foot soldier, that is what I do."
She is expecting about 200 people to attend and 20 venders to bring education and employment opportunities to the largest public housing site in Chattanooga.
Hope for the Inner City will be there with a table for its Jobs for Life program. The job training program welcomes gang members and anyone else who needs a job, organizers said.
The rally will include a Halloween party for kids and information about programs for children and adults. There also will be inspirational speakers from area churches.
"I just want everybody to show some peace and love," Rooks said. "People say we can't come together without violence. I want to show them something different."
The rally comes less than two weeks after a woman jogger was raped on Reggie White Boulevard. The two males, one a juvenile, charged in the crime live at College Hill Courts, according to news reports.
There's so much negativity, and people are ready to get to something positive, Rooks said.
Janet Radden, the Chattanooga Housing Authority's community representative, said she also looks forward to the rally.
"I want us to take hold of something positive and grow with it," she said.
Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...