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Louisville anti-violence group aids grieving mothers, builds safer communities

Sylvia Bennett-Stone brings her national support group, Voices of Black Mothers United, to cities suffering from relentless violence.Louisville was her latest stop on Saturday, just as the Metro reached a grim milestone of more than 100 homicides.“What solutions could we bring to our communities to make it better?” said Bennett-Stone. “Does that mean starting a neighborhood watch one block at a time or advising a way that someone can report a crime without feeling threatened?”The movement also offers services and empathy to mothers who lost children to violent crime or addiction, allowing them to turn their trauma into triumph.“We truly believe that if that mom heals, the family heals; and if the family heals, the community heals,” she said.Bennett-Stone started the group after her 19-year-old daughter, Krystal, was killed in 2004 after being caught in crossfire at an Alabama gas station.“We should be able to drive our car to a gas station and then go home safely. Not go to a hospital morgue and then to a cemetery,” she said. “It doesn’t get easier, you learn to manage it, not to cry every day, and reach out to someone else and help them.”While members of Voices of Black Mothers United share a pain that cannot be undone, they also share the same passion to heal and transform communities from violence.With the spectrum reaching far beyond guns, this effort to curb violence is collaborative. Grassroots organizations and city entities like LMPD’s victim services unit are partnering with VBMU.“Our victim services unit covers everything from arson to domestic violence to homicide,” said Natalie Buckley, a supervisor at the unit. “It’s important that all victims have those resources because all of those victimizations are traumatizing.”Whether it’s through awareness, resources, discussions, or policy change, VBMU hopes to tackle a senseless trend, and work to ensure another parent isn’t forced into this club of grieving mothers.“It’s an unnatural course of events. We’re not supposed to bury our child, our child is supposed to bury us,” Bennett-Stone said. “Everyone is ready for a change.”Kentucky is the 23rd state the organization has created chapters in.

Sylvia Bennett-Stone brings her national support group, Voices of Black Mothers United, to cities suffering from relentless violence.

Louisville was her latest stop on Saturday, just as the Metro reached a grim milestone of more than 100 homicides.

“What solutions could we bring to our communities to make it better?” said Bennett-Stone. “Does that mean starting a neighborhood watch one block at a time or advising a way that someone can report a crime without feeling threatened?”

The movement also offers services and empathy to mothers who lost children to violent crime or addiction, allowing them to turn their trauma into triumph.

“We truly believe that if that mom heals, the family heals; and if the family heals, the community heals,” she said.

Bennett-Stone started the group after her 19-year-old daughter, Krystal, was killed in 2004 after being caught in crossfire at an Alabama gas station.

“We should be able to drive our car to a gas station and then go home safely. Not go to a hospital morgue and then to a cemetery,” she said. “It doesn’t get easier, you learn to manage it, not to cry every day, and reach out to someone else and help them.”

While members of Voices of Black Mothers United share a pain that cannot be undone, they also share the same passion to heal and transform communities from violence.

With the spectrum reaching far beyond guns, this effort to curb violence is collaborative. Grassroots organizations and city entities like LMPD’s victim services unit are partnering with VBMU.

“Our victim services unit covers everything from arson to domestic violence to homicide,” said Natalie Buckley, a supervisor at the unit. “It’s important that all victims have those resources because all of those victimizations are traumatizing.”

Whether it’s through awareness, resources, discussions, or policy change, VBMU hopes to tackle a senseless trend, and work to ensure another parent isn’t forced into this club of grieving mothers.

“It’s an unnatural course of events. We’re not supposed to bury our child, our child is supposed to bury us,” Bennett-Stone said. “Everyone is ready for a change.”

Kentucky is the 23rd state the organization has created chapters in.



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