Providing more support to the hundreds of people in Milwaukee affected by gun violence every year.
The U.S. Department of Justice is giving more than $370,000 to Milwaukee County through “Project Safe Neighborhoods.” The goal of that money is not only to reduce the number of shootings, but also, help those directly affected by them.
Brenda Hines knows how crucial that help could be for victims of gun violence. Her son, Donovan, was shot and killed two years ago. He was only 23-years-old. The crime remains unsolved.
“Having to lose a child, or any family member, to senseless violence like that, is the worst thing anyone can go through,” Hines said. “It never gets easier. The only thing that has made it bearable for me, is helping other families get through it. Being there for others in their time of need.”
She serves as a Salvation Army Chaplain, showing up at crime scenes throughout the city to help, and pray with, victims and their families. She also started a grief support group at her church, and is organizing a brunch next month for local families who’ve lost a loved one. But she’s had to navigate her own healing process on her own. A task, she calls, daunting.
“I haven’t had any real help in two years,” Hines said. “There’s no blueprint after losing a child to gun violence. There’s no place to go or person to seek out for help.”
After her son’s death, she feared staying in her own home, but had nowhere else to go. She missed work due to such immense grief, and faced financial challenges. She eventually found some free counseling services on her own.
Matthew Krueger, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, says the “Project Safe Neighborhoods” federal grant money awarded to Milwaukee County is designed to better help people in the aftermath of such trauma.
“It will hopefully provide victims of shootings a quick, and one-on-one relationship with somebody who work closely with them to both recover from the incident, but also navigate the process of working with the prosecution so shootings are effectively prosecuted.”
That gives Hines hope.
“That could be a solution that really helps,” she said. “To rebuild and restore lives. Let the community know there’s help available, and that someone is on your side in your darkest hour.”
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office and Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention are still working to determine specific ways to best implement the grant money. But it will include getting to people impacted right away, to help healing and recovery.