Rev. Ralph Hawthorne is driven to make Rockford safer.
"To wake up every morning, knowing that I can personally make a difference in somebody's life, there's nothing better than that," Hawthorne said.
That passion is Ceasefire, a non-violence initiative that began in Rockford this past spring. The project allows Hawthorne and others to hit the streets, armed with a simple message, stop the shooting, and a powerful agenda, saving lives.
"It is outstanding. We were doing outreach on fairgrounds one day and a young man approached us, and basically just said to me ‘Where you guys been?’ So there's an absence of that face to face interaction," Hawthorne said.
And despite homicides being down in Rockford this year, Hawthorne says the recent spike in violence only heightens the need for non-violence alternatives.
"The fact of the matter is there have been homicides in Rockford and there will probably be more, so anything we can do to try and intervene will make things better off for the community," Hawthorne said.
Hawthorne says while he hopes getting out in the streets will slow down violence, he says Ceasefire is out to positively interact, not indict.
"The police do what they are doing, but we are here to help, not eye-spy for the police," Hawthorne said.
And just four years after Ceasefire began in Chicago, the initiative is showing results in slowing down the bullets.
"There is a 58 percent decrease in shootings in the targeted areas that Ceasefire's been implemented in Chicago and we hope to replicate that here in Rockford," Hawthorne said.
There will be an informational meeting for Ceasefire Rockford on September 29. The meeting will be held at four p.m. at Saint Paul Church of God.