A forum to discuss the needs of both parents and youth in the Aiken community will be held on Saturday.


The event has been organized through the efforts of several community leaders, including Aiken City Councilwomen Gail Diggs and Lessie Price, with the help of River of Life Church Youth Coordinator Travis Thomas. Guest speakers will include Paul “The Punisher” Williams, who was a professional boxer, and retired NFL Player Troy Williamson.


Diggs said that after several recent violent incidents that have occurred in the community, it was time to discuss the concerns of local single parents and families.


“We want them to know that we are familiar with some of the struggles and challenges that they face on a daily basis,” Diggs said.


The forum offers the opportunity to address those concerns and find solutions as well as hear from other families who have faced adversity but their children still grew up to be successful adults, Price said.


“Parents who have experienced difficulties will have advice to share with other parents in attendance on how to cope and survive based on trial and error, stress and economic and financial strains,” Price said.


Diggs said other local organizations will be at the forum to offer attendees information about employment resources and opportunities for their children to become more involved in the community.


The event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided, and from noon to 1 p.m. Door prizes will be available.


Sponsors include the City of Aiken, River of Life Church, Hunger No More, Lower Savannah Workforce Development, Paxen Learning Academy, Megiddo Dream Station, Freedman Parenting Center, Aiken Barnwell Head Start, Destiny Leaders and Aiken Housing Authority.


The forum will start at noon at the River of Life Church located at 1411 Columbia Highway N.


Amy Banton is the County beat reporter for the Aiken Standard. She is originally from Rustburg, Va.