“When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.” ~ Tecumseh
I’ve been busy! I spent three days in Orlando at the Southern Regional Conference for National and Community Service. 400 hundred people representing ten states were gathered to learn how to enhance their AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, VISTA, and NCCC programs. My team from the Peacemaker Family Center was honored to open the conference with a energizer activity that got everyone on their feet and excited about all things community service. We also managed to squeeze in a picture with Chester Spellman, CEO, of Volunteer Florida and Bill Basl, the National Director of AmeriCorps. Peacemaker Family Center has been an AmeriCorps site through Volunteer Florida.
Then, I traveled to Jacksonville, Florida for a Children of Inmates, Inc. (COI) meeting with the Jacksonville area Guardian Ad Litem organization. When I arrived, I was greeted with the horrific news that an acquaintance’s nephew had died in a gang-related shooting the night before in Jacksonville. I was stunned. We managed to get through our presentation to the Guardian Ad Litem staff and volunteers, even though our minds were distracted by the terrible reality of a young man’s death. Later that afternoon, we went and sat in the park to debrief and breath some fresh air.
By the time the situation in Baltimore, Maryland erupted in community riots on Monday, April 27, a total of 18 young adults had been shot and 4 died as a result of their injuries in Jacksonville since I had left home for the AmeriCorps Conference. There were no riots and very little news coverage.
I have learned that there are no easy answers to neighborhood crime, gang violence, and intergenerational incarceration. But I still have hope. I have hope that the work that we are doing through COI will eventually begin to turn the tide beginning in the lives of the children and families we impact.
“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” ~ Psalm 90:14 NIV
(photo credits: Hannah Boyd, Southern Regional Conference, April 20, 2015, Orlando, Florida; Linda Freeman, Jacksonville, Florida, April 24, 2015 and Lowell Correctional Facility, March 2015; White Orchid, Linda Freeman, February, 2015.)