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Warner Robins native on a mission to stop gun violence in the place where she grew up

Shellita Austin wants others to see they don't have to choose violence or become a victim of their surroundings

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — In light of recent violence in her hometown, a native of Warner Robins is hosting a conference Saturday to help prevent gun violence and crime.

Shellita Austin was born and raised in Warner Robins, but moved to Florida as an adult to get resources for her autistic child.

"You take the lemons and you make lemonade... that didn't happen for me. When I had the lemons, there was no lemonade still being made, so I had to make a decision. I was 19 years old. Everything that I was going through as a single mom at that time, it was hopeless, and I wanted to have some hope," Austin said.

So, she found inspiration in writing and now wants to share those words with people in Warner Robins.

"I could've did this conference anywhere, anywhere. Florida could've been great, but I wanted to come home because I see that there is a need for unity and growth," Austin said.

Austin wants others to see they don't have to choose violence, or "become a victim of your surroundings."

"For our younger generation, you may think you have no options, but you do and it starts with you," Austin said.

This Saturday, she's hosting "The Change Experience Conference."

"It is about showing people that you do have options and you do have people that will back you up. People that will support you from the beginning, the middle, and the end," Austin said.

Austin says it's a panel of guest speakers, including Jamecia Marshall, owner of Paintings by Jayy.

"Hopefully, I can just talk to them and let them know that yes, there might be a lot of obstacles and you might feel like you can't do it. Nothing is impossible and I had to learn that from family as well," Marshall said.

The goal is to unite, inspire, and motivate others, "despite the negativity going on."

"We won't let you down. If you're willing, then we got you," Austin said.

'The Change Experience Conference' takes place Saturday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Wellston Center on Maple Street.

You can purchase a ticket at the door for $20.

Austin's motto is, "You are always one decision away from a totally different life."

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