Every year, Wear Orange and National Gun Violence Awareness Day are a “big deal” to Lisa Molock, Executive Director of Let’s Thrive Baltimore. Year-round, the Baltimore, MD-based organization provides support to families impacted by trauma, but she considers Wear Orange on June 4 a special opportunity for remembrance.
“Everyone in Let’s Thrive Baltimore has lost a loved one to gun violence,” Molock said. ”Honoring them during the same day that Hadiya Pendleton is being honored is an honor in itself, but assuring that our loved ones aren’t forgotten—a reminder that we have to work hard to end gun violence—is critical in the work that Let’s Thrive Baltimore does every day and allows us to partner with new and existing community partners to focus on crime prevention through environmental design.”
Molock’s relationship with Moms Demand Action first began because of Wear Orange—she even has stepped up as a leader with Moms Demand Action to organize the Wear Orange event in Baltimore annually. This collaboration has helped introduce more environmental design features to Baltimore communities, including things like planting gardens, creating memorial spaces decorated with orange ribbons during Wear Orange, and more.
“In Baltimore specifically, community partners are the basis for fighting city gun violence,” Elaine Arndt, Baltimore City Campaigns Lead for Moms Demand Action, said. “The groups we work with know what the issues are in their neighborhoods and know the solutions. They live, work, and worship in the places that need help across the city. It is a privilege to be a witness to their stories, to form relationships that offer sisterhood and solace, to assist their work, and to stand shoulder to shoulder with them when meeting with legislators or government officials. They show that the numbers are real people, not statistics.”
For Wear Orange in 2021, Let’s Thrive Baltimore, Moms Demand Action, and other community partners will hang ribbons of remembrance in their memorial garden for gun violence victims. The 120 ribbons to be displayed in the garden will each have a name on them, representing the families that Let’s Thrive Baltimore supports in Baltimore City.
“Wear Orange is a chance to uplift the work of community partners and survivors who carry on the day-to-day work of gun violence prevention in their own communities,” Arndt said. “These Baltimore neighborhoods are fighting hard to reverse decades of racial, social, economic, environmental, policing, and health disparities to create new opportunities for their young people. Wear Orange is an opportunity to feature and celebrate their work.”
Through a community participatory approach, Let’s Thrive Baltimore supports the youth in Baltimore City. In addition to environmental design projects, they work to divert youth from gun violence by teaching them conflict resolution, helping them heal from their personal trauma, and assisting families in the years to come to ensure that the entire family is prospering.
“Lisa is committed every day to making Baltimore a safer place for youth,” Arndt said. “She most recently guided the youth in the creation of the Let’s Thrive Memory Garden in Harlem Park in Baltimore. It features memorial stones for loved ones lost to gun violence, planter boxes for the students to plant flowers in, and an area to enjoy a peaceful green space for healing.”
Molock has had many memorable interactions from working in Baltimore over the years, but by far the most memorable is the day that she worked with a young man named Quintrell to help turn his life around. After discovering that he had a gun in his backpack while working on a beautification project with Let’s Thrive Baltimore, she worked with his mother to intervene, and help him take a different path with his life.
“Qunintrell has now been featured and honored by the National Points of Light Award and won a youth-led grant through Philanthropy Tank, the grant that was responsible for us creating the first and only memorial garden for gun violence victims in Baltimore City,” Molock said. “Now when I tell Qunintrell to Google himself he just smiles and says, ‘Miss Lisa, I’m going to catch up with you with all these news stories on Google search,’ and I smile and say, ‘you’re almost there Qunintrell, but I want you to have more news articles than me, and you will, because you are a selfless and committed true leader, dedicated to your community, and an inspirer for all your peers.’”
In all that Let’s Thrive Baltimore does, they work to remember the hundreds of lives lost to gun violence in Baltimore City every year and to help the youth in their community to take a different path.
“The main thing that motivates me to keep doing the work I’m doing is the real change I see in the children and their caregivers,” Molock said. “These families are surviving with a new purpose in life and that’s to live and care for the family members they still have and keep them away from a life of violent crimes.”
Wear Orange on June 4
Across America, people will Wear Orange on June 4—National Gun Violence Awareness Day—to honor victims and survivors of gun violence and to call attention to this crisis that takes more than 100 lives every day.Join Us