|North Carolina Department of Public Safety|
Bryant Reaches Out To Youth
By Pamela Walker
ROANOKE RAPIDS- When Vernon Bryant, chief probation/parole officer for Halifax County, isn’t working with offenders, he’s working with young men in the community as a team leader of Exodus.
Exodus is an organization made up of volunteers who serve as mentors to African American males between the ages of seven and 18 who live in Halifax, Northampton, Bertie or Hertford counties.
Bryant said the name of the group, Exodus, comes from the Bible and that it stands for "a way out." The group meets once a month and offers the youth a variety of activities that include health issues, problem-solving and team-building.
Bryant, a judge and two other community leaders started Exodus 10 years ago. "We felt like we needed to do something because we felt like young African Americans were getting lost in society," said Bryant. While they do not target at-risk youth, there are a few in the group. They also don’t turn away other races or females if they want to get involved.
Bryant says one young man used to call him every Friday just to talk. Now that young man is a correctional officer. Another former Exodus participant is an assistant superintendent. "I feel like we’ve made a difference in some lives, but I also know we can’t touch them all," said Bryant.
Bryant started his career with the Department 19 years ago as an intake officer in Halifax County. He went on to become a probation/parole officer and intensive officer. He’s been a Chief PPO for six years. Bryant was not only the first African American probation/parole officer in Halifax County, he was also elected in 1997 as the first African American school board member in Roanoke Rapids.
A Halifax County native, Bryant graduated from Weldon High School in 1975. He graduated from Fayetteville State University in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in intermediate education and a minor in history. Bryant is married and has a teenage son and daughter.
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