For Daniel Veiga, his work serving and protecting others doesn’t end when his day job is over in Corporate Security at Georgia Power. For the Cartersville resident and part-time officer with the local police department – who used to work as a School Resource Officer assigned to the City of Cartersville School System – he knows the importance of supporting the next generation.
“A couple years ago, I was approached by a fellow resource officer who I worked with at the Cartersville Police Department to team up on starting a diversion program for the kids we already knew in the school,” said Veiga. “This program provides a direct and immediate impact back to our community.”
That program became “Youth Against Violence and Drugs,” an initiative dedicated to offering troubled young men and women as young as 12 years old with classes and mentors that assist with life lessons and character building.
“Most of these kids have already had runs ins with law enforcement, the juvenile courts or disciplinaries within a school system such as fighting, stealing, truancy or simply poor behavior,” he said. “The students willing to participate in this program want to learn better behaviors but are also preventing themselves from being before a juvenile court judge and face penalties such as incarceration or monetary infractions.”
The program is led by Veiga, now a part-time officer with the City of Kingston, as well as two current full-time police officers from Cartersville and Douglas County Schools, another part-time officer from Kingston, and is supported by several sports coaches, pastors, teachers, and counselors. The leaders come together to assist with classes and mentoring, including a two-hour a day program held over a 10 -week period.
At the end of the program, participants receive a certificate of completion, a t-shirt, and advice on follow-up and mentoring options.
“At times we assist these kids with job placement and make every effort to follow up and give support or mentorship to ensure that they are not going right back into the same mode or demeanor that got them here in the first place,” he said.
Veiga knows the importance of strong parenting and what the influence of a strong mentor can mean to the mostly male population that attends these classes. As a father of six, 24 years of police experience with nine of those years as a resource officer assigned to the Cartersville City School District, and a spouse who teaches at Cartersville High School, Veiga believes that intervening with children at an earlier age are more likely to correct their behaviors.
When asked what the most rewarding part of leading this initiative is, Veiga said, “being able to watch these kids grow and improve over the years.”
Now working in Corporate Security at Georgia Power, he believes in living up to the company’s motto of being, “A citizen wherever we serve.”
“Having the opportunity to work full time at Georgia Power and still part-time with the police department to serve these students and the community has been so rewarding to me and I appreciate the opportunity to be able to do both.”
To support the initiative and help it grow in the Bartow County community, Veiga connected with Cam Parker, an area manager for Georgia Power in Cartersville, to see if the company could provide support.
“It was a great opportunity for us to provide support because we are heavily focused on at-risk children and families in the area,” said Parker. “These kids are often in situations where small troubles can become large impediments and large issues can become catastrophic. One wrong decision can create emergencies that are often too dire to overcome alone. That’s where Daniel and his fellow first responders step in. They are making a true difference where a true difference is urgently needed, and Georgia Power is proud to support their efforts.”
Parker was able to secure a $1,000 donation from the company for the initiative with Veiga and his family personally matching it.
“These kids come for advice and want tough love sometimes,” said Veiga. “They know that we love them, and we are going to be truthful with them and help however we can.”