Mount St. Joseph University

Mother of the Streets of Cincinnati

Dateline: student newspaper

By: Kathryn Schmelz

If you had asked Paulette King what she would be doing in 20 years, helping gang members find a way to disassociate themselves from gang activity and constantly aiding domestic abuse victims would not have been her answer.
King shared her life experiences dealing with several of Cincinnati’s most violent gangs and also with helping rescue victims of domestic abuse in a recent Cincinnati Authors session.  It is a course taught by Professor Jeffrey Hillard.  On April 18, Hillard promised the class that “the next speaker will be unforgettable and will change your [students’] thinking, if not your lives.”  Little did students know that the lady coming to speak would have such inspiring stories.
King is a former writer and columnist for Hillard’s former publication, RED! the breakthrough ‘zine.  The online publication ran from 2008 to 2014.  Her column, “The Streets,” was the most popular feature in the webzine, Hillard said.  King still writes periodically about her groundbreaking work “in the streets,” she said, and is planning to post more writing on her new Urban Success Mentoring website.

King’s story starts over 17 years ago as an American Sign Language (ASL) Interpreter in an area school where gang-related crimes were a common aspect of life.  In her short time there, the situations she was exposed to started a passion that would live on today.  She began helping kids that needed simple things, like rides home and meals, and it progressed to her starting an organization called Urban Success Mentoring.
For the next 17 years, King and her parents worked with gang members in an attempt to bring peace to areas of Cincinnati and help those in the gangs stay out of the prison system.  However, her methods are anything but ordinary.  There is no textbook or guide on how to handle situations that King puts herself into.  With minimum training, she is able to handle situations in a way that provides results in a different way than what officials would normally get.  Her focus is on the trust and respect that she works hard to establish with each of her kids as well as teaching them how to communicate in ways other than with violence.
Her organization has grown over the years to include others who have not only seen the success of her program but have also been through it themselves.  In total, only 20 people make up her team.  Urban Success now includes other specialty areas, like help for the homeless and a crisis team for domestic abuse victims.  According to Ohio Attorney General’s website, there are over 72,000 reports of domestic violence within the Ohio border.  Urban Success not only helps to remove the abused victims from their home in a way that they feel comfortable but they also provide assistance to the victims.  Using a holistic approach, they help with everything from replacing documents left behind to providing protection for the victims during the time of their court appointments.  The DREEMM Program aims to help the victims not only get back on their feet, but also to make them feel safe in this new life that they are about to begin.
“I know God has called and equipped us to do this,” said King. There have been many times when her life has been put in danger, whether from interfering with a gang-related fight or trying to help a domestic abuse victim to escape but God has always kept her safe.  She lives her life by Isaiah 6:8: “Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’"  or “Changing Lives Through Action.”  And to this day her action has helped between 275 to 300 people.

If you would like to volunteer with Urban Success, visit their website  The organization is always growing and trying to find new ways to expand their programs to reach the people that need their help the most.