The support and advocacy group JAVA has been holding monthly meetings to honor victims of homicide since August of 2018. On Sunday, the group invited men in the community who are actively mentoring and supporting other men who have experienced loss.
They gathered at Faith United Methodist Church on E. Dewald Street.
Among the speakers was the church’s pastor who shared his own experience of loss. Also speaking was longtime barber, Foundation One. He works at Unity Barbershop on Pontiac Street.
Foundation One discussed how his experience of being shot at the age of 16 has led him to where he is now. He supports and mentors other men who have experienced violence or are looking to turn their lives around.
Nearly everyone who gathered for the meeting has lost a loved one to violence. They said while the hurt will never go away, with support, it can get better.
“My past has allowed me to be able to speak to somebody that is on the path that I used to be on and you can get confidence from them and if they believe in you, they’ll let you help them,” said Foundation One.
“We just really want to reach out to those fathers in our community,” explained JAVA team member Theresa Juillerat. “Because it’s always that impression, you know, men don’t cry, men are solid, men are strong, and now men are wearing pink. And we just want to reach out to them and just say it’s okay, you have feelings too and and we’re not leaving you out in this, we know that you need the support.”
Also in attendance was Janet Tinsley, the mother of April Tinsley, and other families who are remembering loved ones.
The event ended with a vigil honoring victims who lost their lives in the month of February.