(CBS DETROIT) – At the Mathis Community Center on Greenfield in Detroit, they provide mentorships and other services for the betterment of Detroiters. Now the centers founder Judge Greg Mathis is shifting gears. He came to the center Friday, to get out an important message.

“Under a dozen people have had complications from the vaccine, but 18,000 have died from not getting one,” said Judge Mathis.

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Mathis says he’s fully vaccinated and wants others to follow suit in order to save lives. He says he understands the mistrust many in the black community have with vaccines, but says people should trust the current science.

“Even though the experiments in the past was a racist project to experiment on black men, in this case the vaccination was developed by hundreds of African American scientists, and African American doctors, I trust them,” said Mathis.

Mathis says he has experienced the devastation that comes with COVID first hand, and it hurts that so many lives have been lost to the virus, especially in his hometown of Detroit.

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“Two of the men who were in my wedding, one my best man, passed from COVID-19, another was a dear friend of mine you all know him sheriff Benny Napoleon, in fact we were here at the community center some four weeks before he past talking to some young people here,” Mathis said.

Mathis is passionate about giving back to his community, especially during the pandemic. Now he just wants people within the community to take COVID seriously. He says he believes the vaccines are a step in the right direction to getting us back to normal and saving lives.

“I think you should play the odds on the right side and that is the odds are, COVID-19 is true, it’s real, it’s killing people, but you can save your lives,” said Mathis.

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April Morton