CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A local church is receiving national praise for efforts to stem the tide of gang violence.
The F-B-I is recognizing the program local leaders say is changing lives.
The exercise of gang prevention is carried out First Baptist West, and is now getting the attention of the federal government.
Recognition came from the F-B-I and during a special luncheon in Center City, the good works also got the attention of a Washington law maker.
South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn applauded the churches efforts.
"I think one of the roles of the church is to meet the needs of the community within it is situated," he said.
What the program is a clear alternative to handcuffs, court dates, and hard time.
Supporters are hoping to take the activities to another level.
While many participants are sent by the courts, organizers say the next step is keeping tabs on the kids once they leave.
First Baptist West Pastor Dr. Ricky Woods feels following up with those who leave the program is critical.
He said, "We continue to follow these young people that are one of the things that we want to continue to do is follow them after they leave the program."
The formal presentation of the national award comes early next year in Washington with F-B-I director Robert Mueller.