KANSAS CITY, Missouri - Alvin Brooks spends much of his time trying to solve the complicate issues behind urban crime.
But his mission in life is simple.
“I think the creator put us on earth for two reasons; to serve the creator regardless of our faith and to serve each other,” he said.
Brooks says he has believed this since he was a teenager, when he first became interested in promoting inter-racial and inter-faith dialogue.
He developed an ability to build bridges despite the fact he was raised during a time of segregation and often times, humiliation for African Americans.
“The only place you could eat downtown was Kreskey’s on the alley at 12th and Main,” Brooks remembers. “All you could get was a hot dog.”
“In the stores, if you tried on a hat, you bought it,” Brooks said. “If a woman tried on a dress, you bought it.”
But Brooks never became bitter. Instead he became a police officer, and a bridge between the African American community and the segregated police department.
“Now it is a different city, a different American and lived through that,” Brooks said.
In 1977 Brooks founded the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime in response to a wave of 10 women murdered.
Over time, Brooks became a man who got justice for crime victims.
Today, he is a peacemaker for gang members, a counselor to the grieving parents of teenagers gunned down on Kansas City streets.
He is a tough love advocate for young men in the urban core.
Brooks believes the entire community has a stake in stopping the plague of homicides in Kansas City. He believes education is the key.
“What does it cost Missouri, $13,000 a year to keep a child in public education?” “What is it, $28,000 a year to keep them in prison?” Brooks said. “It is better to keep them in school.”
“But what are the first federal and state budget cuts,” Brooks asks. “Social services and education.”
With a respectful sty and gentle tone, Brooks rose to become a popular city councilman, a police commissioner, and he narrowly lost a race for mayor.
Now he is channeling his immense energy back into Ad Hoc, the group he helped found, to ensure Ad Hoc’s financial stability.
“We try to deliver as much as we can, but we don’t do as much as we want to because of a lack of funding.”
Brooks says Ad Hoc would not survive without a round the clock league of volunteers.
“It’s a 24-7 kind of job; it’s not 9-5.”
Friends and supporters gathered at the Downtown Marriott Hotel Wednesday evening to honor Brooks’ 78th birthday with a fundraiser to benefit Ad Hoc, raising more than $60,000.
Brooks says he will stay with Ad Hoc as long as he can, and carry out what he sees as his life mission.
“I will never retire unless my health fails me,” Brooks promised.
“Because there is still much to be done and you’ve only got a short period of time.”