WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — “Alright, Ms. Arnold. How you doing today?” Dave Moore said.

“Hello, Mr. Moore…how are you?” Jeanettra Arnold said.

This isn’t two people from Winston-Salem exchanging pleasantries. It’s Moore trying to start a most-serious conversation about saving lives.

Moore has been working for years to help young African-American men find their way out of the drug and gang spiral that so often leads to violence. He believes that starts with the old adage that it takes a village.

“That’s the way it was back in the day,” Moore said. “Back in the day, you had different guys, different men that would come pick up some kids, take them to football practice, come pick up some kids drop them off at the boxing ring, going to the YMCA.”

Moore says those options for keeping young people occupied are quickly disappearing, and that is when the gangs pounce and recruit kids as young as 11 and 12.

“It’s not as bad as New York, but I see the potential for it to get to the point that it was in New York,” says former Nassau County, New York, sheriff’s deputyWilliam Herrera. “You let it get out of control, it will get out of control very quickly.”

Herrera is working with Moore on the issue, and he also comes to it with some credibility of having been there.

“There’s a lot of us out there that are in the same position as me where you grew up in that environment, and you made it out,” Herrera said. “Well, take that and pay it forward. Teach it to these kids. Teach them that your environment doesn’t define you.”

Arnold is praying for her son Brandon who both made the honor roll in school and spent some time in prison. And that wasn’t even the worst of it: Brandon was shot seven times by someone in a dispute over a girl and nearly died. Despite his issues, Arnold is always there for her son.

“Always be that support system for your child because, at the end of the day, there’s nobody out there that’s going to love your child like you do,” Arnold said. “I keep a cell phone on for him. I will blow that phone up ’til he answers.”

Moore says the credibility of knowing what these young people are going through is essential. That’s why he brings Deven Gist to talk to them. 

Gist spent nearly 18 years in prison after killing someone – again, a dispute over a woman – but now is out of prison, has a young daughter and wants to prevent other kids from following in his tainted footsteps. Gist wasn’t in the worst position growing up. His father was in the home.

“He let me know…’if you want to be that way…there are consequences to it. I’m here for you.’ He did everything he was supposed to do as a father. I love him to death. He’s still in my life to this day…but it’s the choices that I made because I was caught up thinking…I had to be cool, and it got me 17 years in prison,” Gist said. “Prison is not the place to be…I promise you it’s not. It’s not going to make you cooler, not going to make you better, not going to make you tougher.”

See more of what Moore and his colleagues are trying to do in this edition of the Buckley Report.