Sunday, September 14, 2014

Former lifestyle compels preacher to help troubled youth

Charlotte Y. Cobb wasn’t always compelled to preach the gospel or steer youth away from the crime-ridden streets of Memphis. She also wasn’t always trying to arrest teen pregnancy, keep wayward youth in school, or intervene on their behalf to keep them out of gangs.
     In fact, Cobb, who pastors the Cherokee Outreach Ministry Empowerment Center (COMEC) at 2218 Eldridge St. in the 38108 zip code area of North Memphis, is trying to make a difference in the lives of teenagers who remind her that she could’ve lost her life on the same streets, in the same zip code area, decades ago.
“That’s why I’m geared toward helping others,” said Cobb, who was drug dependent for 12 years before finding solace and piecing together what had been a turbulent life on the streets. “I was a cocaine addict and came off the same streets of 38108.”
Charlotte Y. Cobb
     Cobb saw a difference in her life after releasing the stronghold that kept her bound. “I got saved in 1985,” she said, “at Bountiful Blessings Temple of Deliverance under Bishop G.E. Patterson. I was there for 12 1/2 years and started my ministry in 2000.”
     COMEC was first located on Kerr Avenue in the Hollywood community. The new location, now on Eldridge Street, has been in operation for a month. There will be an open house the whole month of October, she said.
     Cobb recently launched “Memphis Teens with a Dream,” an empowerment program at the church for youth ages seven to 17. “I’m trying to keep them in school, out of gangs, and away from crime – anything that’s negative,” she said.
     On Sundays at the “empowerment center,” Cobb feeds about 50 people in the community who may be food-deprived or who just need a meal to tide them over. “I want to be a person doing more than just feed people on Thanksgiving,” said Cobb, 62.
     Cobb also is converting a home in the Douglass community at 3018 Chelsea Ave. that will be called “The Douglass House of Hospitality.” She said it’s being rehabbed to help youth in that community – the same community where she lost two sons to violence.
     Her son Rocko Waller was killed in 1990 by a stray bullet that was meant for someone else, Cobb said. Mico Waller, who “lived a hard life and never gave it up,” was killed in 2010. Ironically, both sons were killed on Pope Street in Douglass.
     Though gang activity is rampant in the area and crime often runs amok, Cobb said she has a responsibility to help people. “We have got to be available to help. People need prayer. They’re in pain and women are on the street.”
     The youth, she said, are running astray and are lured into the gang lifestyle because they’re often left unattended. “That’s why I’m opening up the home in Douglass to keep them off the streets.”
     When the “The Douglass House of Hospitality” is completed, Cobb said anyone seeking help could take advantage of some of the resources and programs that she’s offering, such as a health initiative, crime prevention, substance abuse, neighborhood watch and an abstinent program for youth.
     Because her ministry is a non-profit, Cobb said she was able to purchase the house in a Shelby County tax sale. It was nearly a shell, striped of its electrical components, said Cobb, who is married with three children, 14 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. She raised two of her grandchildren.  
     She is expecting the house to be up and running in about 6 to 8 weeks.

     (For more information, contact Charlotte Y. Cobb at 901-258-6463.)

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