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A group of volunteers with Mommas Safe Haven
Black History Month

Beverly F. Smith-Brown: Meet people where they are with compassion

Black History Month

This Black History Month, we recognize the importance of Black leadership, advocacy, and resilience in the gun violence prevention movement. Throughout February, we’ll be highlighting the important work of Black Americans who are on the front lines of fighting the gun violence crisis in their communities.

I was first impacted by gun violence at the young age of 9, when the police showed up banging on my door at 5 a.m. I was on my way to the bathroom when I opened the door and was greeted with big guns in my face and the police yelling, “where is he?” A few minutes later, I heard several gunshots, and it seemed like seconds later, my sister’s boyfriend was being carried out on a stretcher. He later died from his injuries. That incident set the tone for what else I would witness in my community and how it shattered families.

As executive director at my organization, Momma’s Safe Haven in Southeast Washington, D.C., I work with individuals and families who have been affected by trauma. Our approach is to meet people where they are with compassion and with some sense of knowledge of the situation.

I am motivated by the thought that healed people heal people. I once was a lost child running around thinking that it was okay to settle a difference through violence. I believe if I can change my mindset, then I can assist someone else to do better and to be the change agent in their community.

I once was a lost child running around thinking that it was okay to settle a difference through violence. I believe if I can change my mindset, then I can assist someone else to do better and to be the change agent in their community.

My day-to-day work consists of me staying in contact with all partners and participants and connecting them with the resources needed to get to the next level in their healing process. I host a prayer call at 12 p.m. daily for grieving mothers, and host food deliveries on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I also maintain an open line of communication with our clinical department to ensure all participants are receiving the mental health attention needed for their healing.

To others doing this important work in communities deeply impacted by trauma: you should check your intention first. Why are you doing this work? Are you healed? Know that to fix the situation, you can only be a support system for them to be a part of their own rescue.

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