By Carlos Correa

STOCKTON (CBS13) — Residents in Stockton are tackling some of the issues affecting their neighborhoods including poverty, housing and crime.

The People’s Assembly is a series of workshops aimed at giving neighbors the tools to become community organizers and help find solutions to those problems.

Faith in the Valley is a nonprofit organization that believes a different and better future is possible if people start working together.

Community organizer, Toni McNeil grew up in south Stockton and does everything she can to help improve the city. Through Faith in the Valley, a non-profit organization, McNeil is making sure all voices are heard.

“If there is a disconnect and an absence of the actual voices within the community, then we’re hit and miss-ing. We’re not really targeting the needs of the people,” she said.

The group is hosting The People’s Assembly, the first of many meetings focused on empowering residents to take a more active role in advocating for their community.

“I haven’t spent years fighting to have a voice, to advocate and I’m always advocating for others, but I never really learned how to advocate for myself, and so now as an organizer, I am learning that my voice really does have a great amount of power to it,” said McNeil.

McNeil says change in the city happens when you give people the power to voice their concerns, provide them the tools to be more engaged and share with them the knowledge to hold their elected representatives accountable.

“We’re working on these things together that actually can produce more positive, and I should say, a very effective ways in order to improve our community and we may see some of the more negative things reduced because we are increasing the positive effects of what we’re doing together,” said Pastor Curtis Smith of Faith in the Valley.

The group is meeting with people in District 2, an area where voter turnout is typically low and crime is high. Leaders plan to meet in other districts every other month, eventually creating a leadership council that would work with the city.

“I think that is the same thing. And I think those of us who know how, have a responsibility in order to teach others how-to,” he said.

Faith in the Valley plans to host these special meetings every other month in different districts.

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