Jerri Zimmerman remembers the little ones who'd stand on street corners, serving as lookouts for drug dealers.
"They'd yell if they'd see police coming," she said, recalling a York City scene 20 years ago.
That's what started it all for Zimmerman, a community resource officer for the York City Police Department, who took her outrage and channeled it into an after-school program for at-risk city kids called Empowering Youth.
During two decades, Zimmerman estimates she's steered at least 150 kids away from drugs, gangs and violence.
The work continues today at 327 Reinecke Place, the community resource center where Zimmerman spends a few hours a day with kids who don't have much else.
She gives them structure, discipline, a curfew and the expectation that they attend school and get good grades. They are each expected to perform 100 hours of community service per year.
"All of them that I have now aspire for college," she said. "They're desperate, hungry for a college education -- every one of them."
Support needed: But it's getting harder for the 73-year-old Zimmerman, who's been battling emphysema for years, to do everything without a little extra help.
Zimmerman, a self-proclaimed lousy fundraiser, is asking the community to help her fund an Empowering Youth tradition. Each year, Zimmerman takes a handful of her kids to St. Louis for a vacation packed with new experiences.
Five teens -- four boys and one girl -- are looking forward to a trip the week of July 4.
Among them are a homeless boy who's lived in a garage for years, an autistic boy who's endured bullying, and a bisexual teen who's facing rejection from family members.
They could all use a few days away from it all, Zimmerman said.
In the historic Missouri city, the York teens will volunteer at a zoo, visit science museums, tour the city's police department and take a trip down the Mississippi River.
But first, Zimmerman needs to raise $5,400. Her yard sales never raise enough, leaving Zimmerman to make last-minute pleas to the same beneficiaries each year. She's asking the community to step up with donations this year.
Checks can be made out to Empowering Youth and mailed to 336 Reinecke Place. Zimmerman can be reached by phone at 717-854-1063.
-- Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or email@example.com or on Twitter @ydcity.