During Wear Orange 2023, we are spreading the word about how our Everytown Survivor Network Grantees have turned their pain into purpose and support other survivors in doing the same.
The Everytown Survivor Network is a nationwide community of gun violence survivors working together to end gun violence. We connect survivors to each other, offer trauma-informed programs and trainings, provide information and referrals to direct services, and support survivors who choose to become advocates.
For the second year in a row, the Everytown Survivor Network once again offered one-time grants to nonprofit organizations that directly support survivors in communities most heavily impacted by gun violence. Each organization advances our shared mission by providing direct emotional or financial support to survivors, connecting victims with essential services, and elevating survivor voices in communities across the nation.
As is the case for all survivor advocates, our grantees’ meaningful work is deeply personal.
Meet our grantees:
Felix Snipes Foundation
Junction City, KS
“You have to start working with people while they are young to deal with how they’ve been hurt before they hurt others.”Mary Wilson-Snipes
Mary Snipes founded the Felix Snipes Foundation to honor her oldest son, Felix Andre Snipes. Felix is not a statistic: He’s a son, a big brother, and someone who is forever loved, despite his life being taken on Friday, August 31, 2018. The foundation also works to advocate for COVID-19 relief after Mary nearly lost her life to Covid and continues to suffer from the effects of long Covid.
As both a gun violence survivor and a Covid survivor, the foundation uses prevention, safety, education, and resources to uplift, motivate, and encourage those who have been affected or impacted by senseless acts of violence and/or Covid. The work of the foundation reflects the everyday struggle of losing a child or loved one through a traumatic event to show people they are not alone, encouraging self-care and confidentiality in a safe and trustworthy space.
Mary helps long-term Covid survivors by giving them emotional support and educational resources—she has been able to provide masks and bring awareness about Covid as she continues to battle this virus herself. And by passing out gun locks and providing information about Be SMART, the foundation is dedicated to showcasing ways violence can be prevented.
Blessed Ministries was established to support, encourage, empower, and establish relationships with and between survivors of gun violence. Each winter holiday season, Blessed Ministries works with the community to send Survivor Smiles—a box or bag full of smiles to survivors—or host events and experiences for survivors. They believe that it only takes a word, an item, or a bit of hope to make it through moments of overwhelming grief.
In December 2021, they delivered over 672 boxes to survivors in South Carolina. Forty others were sent to survivors across the country including Hawaii, California, and New York. The next year, more than 1000 Survivor Smiles bags were delivered to survivors in South Carolina, including many to students and veterans.
Blessed Ministries also attends court hearings and funerals to support survivors of gun violence, as well as offering retreats for grief support and helping children living in domestic violence and abuse situations.
Jennifer Ann’s Group
“Jennifer Ann’s Group was named in memory of my only child, my daughter Jennifer Ann Crecente, who was a senior in high school when her ex-boyfriend killed her with a firearm.”Drew Crecente
Jennifer Ann’s Group is dedicated to helping adolescents lead happier and healthier lives through the prevention of teen dating violence.
While many U.S. states have begun including information about healthy dating relationships and prevention of dating abuse in their state’s curriculum standards, too often these are unfunded mandates. This lack of awareness and education can lead to tragic outcomes.
Jennifer Ann’s Group’s approach to violence prevention loosely follows the Social Ecological Model Framework (SEM) as used by the CDC: The best way to handle violence is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Violence is complex, and interdisciplinary, and must be met at a variety of levels ranging from individual to societal.
Jennifer Ann’s Group works to prevent violence in the near and long term through ‘Gaming Against Violence’: Since 2008, they have produced more than 70 trauma-informed prosocial games to help young people learn about the potential dangers of dating abuse and learn what constitutes healthy dating relationships, focusing on associated problems and solutions under the umbrella of intimate partner violence (IPV) and consent.
Their latest games take on the resilience needed to handle the significant stressors piled on young people due to the pandemic. Resilience skills empower young people, and people who employ resilience strategies are less likely to find themselves in abusive relationships, as either the target of abuse or as an abuser. ‘One New Message’ focuses on using coping strategies to better manage stress and anxiety to make better decisions, and ‘UnEarth’ focuses on communication strategies for non-violent conflict resolution. Upcoming games will take on critical thinking to better situate students to deal with misinformation, appreciate the value of facts and the scientific method, and be generally situated to make healthier decisions.
They are excited to use this grant opportunity to develop additional secondary resources for educators and parents to use in conjunction with the games, as well as to extend their staff and hire a Community Engagement Coordinator.
Mothers Against Community Gun Violence (MACGV)
“None of us should be quiet about gun violence and its toll on families and communities.”LaTanya Black
On June 13, 2020, LaTanya Black’s life changed forever when she received a call that medics were trying to resuscitate the life of her 23-year-old daughter, Nia Black, a college student, mentor, and entrepreneur, who had been shot in the head while riding as a passenger in a vehicle. LaTanya started Mothers Against Community Gun Violence (MACGV) as a space to offer trauma response, support, and community to other grieving mothers and family members, and to organize them as a powerful voice in gun violence prevention in the community and the Minnesota legislature.
MACGV provides education on the risks and consequences of gun violence to reduce its prevalence, aspiring for safer communities for all. They support families whose children have been murdered with resources and programs for trauma-informed healing and restoration. They offer both violence prevention and post-violent incident support and wraparound services, with holistic healing and restorative services including support groups facilitated by licensed therapists. Families are invited to participate in restorative yoga sessions that address internalized trauma and meet with a mental health therapist through one-on-one grief therapy and certified health coaches. These types of programs and services help families whose health issues increase due to PTSD.
MACGV also has public safety initiatives like NOT ON MY BLOCK, which uses yard and window signs as a community call to action in a non-confrontational, safe way and communicate messages of care and well-being to neighborhoods. Their Peace Walk for Change program has gained national and international momentum as a model for a peaceful way to advocate against gun violence and they’re gearing up for their second annual NOT ON MY BLOCK gun violence prevention walkathon. The walk will take place on June 10, 2023, and to learn more about the walkathon visit their website.
MACGV also advocates for change through legislation changes and new policies. They are involved in public policy, speaking with legislators and other public officials on public safety. MACGV spearheaded adding the language, “victims, and families of gun violence,” to the Minnesota Public Safety Omnibus Bill that now includes funding for Community Violence Intervention (CVI) groups. MACGV credits their tremendous advocacy support team, the MN African American Leadership Forum, their CVI partners Protect MN and the MN National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), and gun sense legislators who worked relentlessly together to make this happen!
Oklahoma Homicide Survivors Support Group
Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma Homicide Survivors Support Group was created to help survivors cope, push legislation that supports the rights of victims, and serve as a unified voice for survivors. Their diverse organization offers support statewide, no matter the means of homicide and regardless of race, ethnicity, educational background, or socioeconomic status.
They strive to offer emotional support, direct survivors to community resources, include survivors in community events directed to survivors and loss by homicide, and attend events, including trials and memorial events, at the request of survivors.
They partner with other organizations in the gun violence prevent movement and offer support to families victimized by gun homicides. While tabling at the Oklahoma Missing Persons Day, and hosting the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims program in Oklahoma City each year, they help families apply for benefits from the Oklahoma Crime Victims Compensation Program.
Our 3 Memorial Foundation
On February 27, 2019, Jacquelon Gaskin was gunned down by the father of her children after attempting to end the controlling relationship. He then turned the gun on both children, Gianna, six-years-old, and Giovanni, one-year-old, ending their short lives.
In the resulting devastation, her aunt, Danielle Leverett-Gallaspy adjusted to their new normal and began to educate herself about domestic abuse and the services available to victims and survivors.She learned that many community-based services provide shelter but no methods for survivors to gain true independence. Danielle eventually founded Our 3 Memorial Foundation to assist survivors of domestic violence with navigation leaving abusive and controlling relationships safely.
As domestic abuse in underserved communities disproportionately grows, the demand for services and support continues to rise. Our 3 Memorial Foundation, Inc. is committed to raising awareness about domestic abuse’s impact on our communities and creating safe spaces for survivors.
With ID replacement, crisis transportation, advocacy, and Fresh Start programs, alongside community engagement, Our 3 Memorial Foundation ensures that their clients have the chance to be a survivor, not a victim. And by providing the essentials like toiletries, process navigation assistance, and tools needed to feel a sense of independence, their work empowers survivors of abuse and encourages complete separation from their abusers.
Safer Communities for Justice
“We want to put a face on every case number as a reminder that these are people, not numbers. They are members of our community and we want to inspire the community to join the fight for justice.”SCFJ
Safer Communities For Justice aims to raise awareness and provide resources for unsolved murders in their community. They engage and inspire survivors and their community because those who were lost were members of the community. They encourage survivors to use their voices and uplift the stories of those lost while fighting to bring justice to beloved families who were senselessly taken by gun violence.
In partnership with local government, Safer Communities for Justice holds monthly neighborhood forums to build trust, provide resources for victim’s families, and work to bring justice to the families of the numerous victims of unsolved homicides.
Where Do We Go From Here
“My whole life changed on May 5, 2014, when my son, Darrell Lynch, was murdered in front of me over a parking incident. My career changed from being a substance abuse counselor to becoming a LIFE Camps Inc. employee, a mother who comforts other families affected by gun violence and helps them live their NEW LIFE without their loved ones.”Carolyn Dixon
After Carolyn Dixon saw her son shot and killed in front of her, at the highest point of her grief, she asked her mother, “Where do we go from here?” Her mother responded, “live.” But Carolyn couldn’t quite figure out how it was possible to live a life without her son.
She eventually found healing and became determined to speak out against senseless gun violence, contributing her voice to the gun safety movement. This deeper involvement showed her that families who have lost a loved one to gun violence, especially mothers, were not getting the help and guidance needed to manage their trauma and get back on their feet and that she could provide it, leading to the founding of Where Do We Go From Here in 2018. Where Do We Go From Here Inc. is a survivor-based organization located in the Jamaica section of Queens, NY.
The organization is aimed at improving the mental health of families who have directly experienced gun violence and at helping them transition from their grieving process into living a new life without their loved ones. Their programming incorporates healing circles, trauma and PTSD training, grief processes, and case management services, all in a safe environment. And they have expanded to include hospital response, in which they go, by referral, to a hospital to immediately help newly impacted survivors.
Ms. Carolyn Dixon, the founder of the organization, is a survivor, a long-time community partner of Moms Demand Action in NYC, and is always there when invited to participate in rallies, legislative meetings, vigils, and other Moms Demand Action events. In her community, she is known as Ma. She’s gained the respect of neighbors and fellow community members, including high-risk youth, and through this community work, she’s learned about shootings or violent incidents to assist in mediating situations and preventing potential retaliation between individuals and groups.
Her work succeeds because no one knows what a parent goes through once they have lost a child except for another parent who has experienced this loss or this pain.