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“The Sweetest Land” Screening at ReadingFilmFEST to Address Violence Prevention

The Village of Reading

Oct 25, 2022

Radarra McLendon recently completed a mentorship program with Alvernia’s O’Pake Institute at its Reading CollegeTowne Campus. Working with Alvernia, McLendon founded and received funding creating The Village of Reading, a new non-profit working directly with city youth, aimed to provide full time support to her initiative. McLendon, herself, is a victim of gun violence, has lost four family members over her lifetime and countless others affected; friends, neighbors, classmates.

According to WITF’s Anthony Orozo in his October 2022 report, “Reading invests nearly $3 million in community groups to fight violence,” the trend for killing and violence has risen in the City of Reading since peaking at 19 deaths in 2018. Mayor Eddie Moran sought to use the funds available from The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package, earmarking $1.5 million to groups like Village of Reading specifically addressing violence prevention. Reading is one of the only cities in Pennsylvania using these funds to bolster non-profit work.

The ReadingFilmFEST has brought the award winning filmmaker and professor Jeffrey Teitler to screen his film, “The Sweetest Land” Friday, October 28, 7:30 PM at the R/C Reading Movies 11 & IMAX. Teitler’s film speaks of violence prevention efforts from Hartford, CT, another city, like Reading, where violence reached national headlines. Teitler teaches at Central Connecticut State University in the Communications Department.

McLendon learned of this film and with the blessing of Alvernia and ReadingFilm, assembled a diverse panel of officials and mental health professionals to speak after the film, addressing lessons in violence prevention that could be shared in the Greater Reading community. Said McLendon, “This ReadingFilmFEST panel will shed light on victims and the importance of many entities being involved. McLendon’s next project is a Friday café in Reading’s City Park bringing together victims and mental health professionals to provide a caring ear and resources. Says McLendon, ” A village that stands together builds together”.

“The Sweetest Land” has been presented by the Center For Disease Control and Prevention, Harvard School of Law and leading hospitals across the country. The film received multiple awards and recognitions from national and international film festivals including, The Lower East Side Film Festival in NYC, The Awareness Film Festival in Los Angeles, The London International Motion Picture Awards, while also winning a Humanitarian Award of Distinction from IndieFest. The Sweetest Land is supported through an LEF Grant, Peter Knox, Jr., the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism and the Wise Foundation. “The Sweetest Land” humanizes violence, but more importantly, it asks the question, what is REALLY being done to prevent it?

The Village of Reading, a nonprofit organization founded in Reading, PA, is on a mission to prevent youth violence and create a safe place for minors (age 13-18). The Village works directly with community partners to provide resources and services to prevent gun and street violence through education, outreach, advocating for change in community norms and providing a safe place for the youth.

This event is sponsored by Alvernia University CollegeTowne Campus and Berks Community Action Program and supported by ReadingFilm.

Learn about “The Sweetest Land” ticketing and the post-screening panelists here:

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