CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — “This is definitely in response to what we’re seeing in our community and hoping to reduce it,” Janice Walker with Trauma & Resilience Initiative, Inc. said.

They’re trying to reduce violence, but they need the community’s help and tonight, dozens of people did just that. There’s a slew of groups working to end gun violence in Central Illinois. WCIA is following their steps as part of our Victory Over Violence Initiative.

The open house was at the American Legion on Hickory Street in Champaign from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. The room was filled with people sharing ideas on how to end violence in their community.

“As a response for the traumatic gun violence that we’ve had this past year,” Walker said.

Neighborhoods all over Central Illinois have been impacted by gun violence and families are dealing with the aftermath of loved ones being hurt, endangered, or worse. That’s why the Champaign County Community Coalition teamed up with Trauma and Resilience Initiative Incorporated to try and put an end to the violence.

“We try to get people to change some of the behaviors that might be detrimental to the community,” Walker said.

The Healing Opportunities Open House talked about ways people can get involved. There are several paid and volunteer opportunities.

“The gun violence is just getting a little closer to home,” Julie McClure, who attended the open house, said.

Julie McClure’s son goes to Centennial High School in Champaign. She wants to help after seeing what happened at the school this month. Police say a student pulled out a gun during a fight and they’re also looking for someone who fired shots outside of the building.

“Just wanted to do something instead of just sitting around wringing my hands and worrying about it,” McClure said.

People like McClure heard about opportunities to help as community responders, mental health responders, neighborhood wellness connectors and more.

“When you take on a role like that people look at you as a leader in your community and will come to you with various situations,” Walker said.

There are also openings to be peer ambassadors and wisdom leaders, which would have people talk, listen, and be there for teenagers, who may be in a bad situation.

“That’s where community members and neighbors can help out with the younger generation here in helping to create positive roles and share the wisdom that they have,” Walker said.

The people who attended want to do that and help bring peace to their neighborhoods.

“Investing in the community and surrounding the parts of our community and the people who have been most effected by this and figuring out how we can help those communities heal, I think is going to be a big step towards making a difference,” McClure said.

Tonight’s open house also touched on Covid-19. Organizers say it has a direct connection with violence, because people have felt more hopeless. There are jobs available related to Covid-19 response. Check out the link below for a full look of all the paid and voluntary jobs available.

Champaign also has millions to spend in American Rescue Plan money. It has to be spent by the end of 2026. For more information on that, check out the links below.

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