Summerfield pastor lauded for youth program, helping curb crime

Bridgeport police are applauding a local pastor for doing his part to stop violent crime in the community.
Pastor Herron Gaston of Summerfield United Methodist Church has started an intensive program called "Youth With A Purpose," to help get students off the streets and on track for college.
"I see the church as a safe haven," Gaston says.
Gaston works with students through an intensive program that tracks their grades and gives them counseling.
Teens say being involved with the pastor has helped them in many different ways.
"Pastor Gaston has created a comfortable environment," said 18-year-old Melanie Sanabria. "You can be yourself, you can talk to him, you know, and he will guide you."
The 30-year-old pastor also tries to bring in police to have conversations with young people to create a better relationship.
Bridgeport Police Chief AJ Perez calls Gaston a "hero of the pulpit" and says his actions are helping reduce violent crimes in the city.
Although his parents never had a formal education, Gaston went on to receive multiple degrees from Yale University and now hopes to make Bridgeport a safer place.
"What a better way to give back than to do this work with a profound sense of humility," he said.  "But also with a profound sense of hope that our young people can be whatever it is they want to be if they put their mind to it."