Pastor Bean’s work awarded by TNN News
A life's work behind the scenes with the troubled and marginalised was recognised at a ceremony yesterday.
Pastor Leroy Bean, the island's gang violence reduction co-ordinator, was presented with a community impact award by Trevor Lindsay of TNN News, in the first of what is scheduled to be an annual event.
Mr Lindsay said his own turnaround was a testament to Mr Bean's work because the pastor had “invited myself and countless other men to get their lives back on the straight and narrow”.
He added: “His work has taken him into the hearts of some hardcore areas all over the island. Mr Lindsay said Mr Bean's efforts to connect addicts with rehabilitation services and helping young men to find alternatives to gangs had been invaluable.
He added the tribute was “personal as well as for the community”, and that much of Pastor Bean's work with gangs went on “behind the scenes” for confidentiality reasons.
Mr Bean said: “Right now we're finding that the population we're dealing with are people that have been disenfranchised.”
He added: “The thing we're trying to do is give them hope.”
Mr Bean, who was presented with the award at Paget's Botanical Gardens, said the mission transcended barriers.
He added: “Bermuda needs to recognise each one of us plays a significant part in seeing this epidemic stopped.”
Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition. said: “We've had many conversations on where we need to go as a country in leading our young men away from this trouble, and what's needed to move them out of what, for many, is a system that seems never ending.”
Mr Cannonier said Mr Bean had recently brought a group of young men from the Redemption Farm project, which steers at-risk people away from crime, into the House of Assembly to learn about the political system.
Michael Weeks, a Progressive Labour Party backbencher and former minister, said: “I've known Pastor Leroy for 40-plus years. He's always been community minded.
“For more than 20 years he has been at the forefront of gang reduction in Bermuda, and he has spent a lot of personal resources for getting young men out of that life. He was a trailblazer when it came to that.”
Anthony Wade, an anti-gang volunteer who said Pastor Bean had mentored him through troubled times 23 years ago, added: “It's been an honour being behind him as we broker peace.
“I'm really happy that he's been acknowledged, not that he does it for recognition. We stand for peace. We want to see our young black brothers become successful.”
Mr Wade added: “I am a product of him. He has kept his mentorship in my life.”