Miller & Martin To Support 'Critical Work' of Chattanooga Gang Task Force: Challenging Area Businesses to Add Their Support

Members of Chattanooga's oldest and largest law firm presented a check today for $5,000 to the Chattanooga Gang Task Force. Members of Miller & Martin PLLC noted that they wanted to make a difference in the city the firm has called home for the past 145 years.

"We are concerned about the future of our city and want to do all we can to make sure that the successes our city has experienced will continue well into the future," said Jim Haley, Chairman of the firm. "We believe the Chattanooga Gang Task Force is doing critical work that will have a tremendous return on investment in the coming years. With the research they've done and a firm strategic direction in place, we know these funds will assist them with the work ahead; however, we also know that they will need much more support."

Funding will be used to support the Task Force's Literacy Initiative through the Lexia Literacy Program, which is being implemented at the East Chattanooga Recreation Center. The program provides age-appropriate support for all learners. Task Force leaders noted that often times, individuals are embarrassed to admit their struggles in learning, which makes them vulnerable to gang members who will offer protection, inclusiveness and strength through gang membership. The Lexia software allows struggling and advanced students to use the same interface, while keeping their skill levels private. 

Boyd Patterson, Coordinator of the Chattanooga Gang Task Force noted that area businesses can play an "incredible role" to directly address many of the root causes of gang violence. According to Patterson, Miller & Martin's gift to address illiteracy is critical as illiteracy is directly connected to poverty, gangs and crime. He also noted that he is hopeful other businesses will follow the law firm's lead in assisting with the work ahead, both financially and by volunteering their time.

Patterson said, "Whatever members of the business community can do to simply provide their presence and exposure to their particular field, can spark exponential growth to an impoverished kid's perspective and hope for the future."

Patterson specifically noted the need for positive male role models and an exposure to legitimate ways of making money. He said that often, gangs will show potential members the ease of making money through illegitimate means. If given the opportunity to learn and develop employment skills, individuals will have a stronger prospect for success and can break the enticement for gang membership.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to assist with the work being done by the Chattanooga Gang Task Force," said Randy Wilson, Co-Chair of the firm's Task Force Committee. "We hope other businesses will join us in doing all they can to make sure that future for the next generation of Chattanooga's businesses and entrepreneurs is as successful as it has been for all of us."

Ward Nelson, Co-Chair of the firm's Task Force Committee, noted, "Each office of Miller & Martin is given the opportunity to select one local charity as the recipient of its annual holiday contribution. It's our hope that many other businesses will join us in investing in our city's future by assisting the Gang Task Force with the important work they are doing."

Tax deductible contributions may be made by a check payable to the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, located at 1270 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402 with "Chattanooga Gang Task Force" noted on the memo line. 

For more information about the Chattanooga Gang Task Force, or to assist with the work being done, contact Boyd Patterson at: Patterson_B@Chattanooga.gov or call: 423.425.7835.

Media Coverage: WDEF, News Channel 9Times Free Press, Chattanoogan.com, Nooga.com,