CMPD officer writes essay, details relationship with children to improve communities

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A CMPD officer wrote an inspiring essay detailing her relationship with children in Charlotte communities.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Officer Shannon Finis is one of 16 finalists from across the country for the #WhyWeServe grant, that will be used to benefit the officers' communities.

Aftermath, the organization presenting the grant, said they received almost a hundred applications and even more nominations from officers, first responders, and community organizations across the country.

Officer Finis wrote an essay giving details about her daily duties and how those duties led to the creation of her nonprofit called The Terrybrook Project.

The mission statement of The Terrybrook Project is posted on the website.

The mission of the TERRYBROOKPROJECT is to provide the children in the communities we serve opportunities for success by opening doors to various resources; breaking down social, economic and racial barriers; assisting in educational, housing, nutritional and medical needs, ensuring those needs are met and by building a strong foundation between the children, the families and the greater community to establish a positive bond necessary for a happy, healthy, peaceful and promising future.

In her essay, Officer Finis wrote about how job assignment sparked her new passion to help young people in Charlotte communities.

Finis started with CMPD in 2013. In 2014, she said she was given the task of cleaning up an area near a neighborhood where houses near a school were vacant and boarded up.

She said a lot of the students from the school were skipping, breaking into these houses, having sex, drinking alcohol and using drugs.

That summer, she orchestrated a neighborhood clean-up day where community members would help clean up all of the trash, trim trees and brush, remove graffiti and plant several gardens.

The next day, before her shift, Officer Finis went out and watered the flowers that were planted the day before so the work would not be in vain.

She came back day after day and several children started to come out and help.

One young man, 6-year-old Pablo told her he didn't think she was ever going to come back after the clean-up day and he was so happy she did.

"He even asked for his own flower to plant at his house to take care of," Finis wrote.

This turned into a consistent gathering where Officer Finis would bring the children with her for games, movie nights, Halloween pumpkin carving and a big Christmas Dinner with the children, their families and several CMPD officers.

From there, Finis created the Terrybrook Project. The Terrybrook kids range from the age of 5 to 15 and there are 15 kids in the group.

In 2017, Finis expanded to reach an older group of young people in Charlotte and created a basketball camp called Camp Fusion.

The camp hosts 48 kids (24 boys/24 girls) from several CMS high schools.

"I can do this work because I am an officer. Being a police officer has blessed me with the opportunity to help and continue to help so many. I wanted to be a police officer ever since I was a kid," Finis wrote. "I grew up in a rough neighborhood and saw how children were so negatively impacted and I wanted to be able to help or change that. I have a great team of officers that help me try to achieve that."

You can vote for Officer Finis here and read her full essay below.

Officer Finis said her biggest hurdle is funding and this grant would allow her to do even more with the children in 2018.

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