Working to end violence

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — “This open house is an opportunity to come and find out ways they can help,” Mary Catherine Roberson, Champaign County Community Coalition, said.

People across the Champaign Community are concerned and community leaders are working to find solutions to curb the violence. People are calling for action after crimes like the one Champaign Police were called to yesterday.

Shots were fired outside of Centennial High School. Police are actively looking for one person. They say he’s involved, but they’re also looking into the possibility of additional suspects. As the investigation continues, WCIA is exploring what leaders are doing to answer the calls for action.

Champaign City leaders and the Champaign County Community Coalition have had block parties and gone door to door in neighborhoods. They’re hoping to get some feedback and build trust in hopes that people will eventually speak up when the violence hits close to home.

“So there really is a volunteer opportunity for everybody and we really wanted to provide a space for folks to come out, kind of a come one, come all find out about everything that’s available and then find out where you might fit,” Roberson said.

Multiple organizations are working to find solutions to end gun violence in Champaign.

“We need collaboration from the community, the city hall, across the police departments, across all of the many social services organizations in the city, they’re doing great things, we just find that not everybody always knows what everybody else is doing,” Roberson said.

The City of Champaign has been going door to door in neighborhoods and asking people what they want to see happen to stop the violence. They have also had block parties to provide information and bring the community together. Now, they’re hosting a healing communities open house.

“We hope that when we can empower people to speak up when they’re in their neighborhoods. We want them to trust us to share information when things happen in the neighborhoods. So that’s one way we can help by sharing information that can help get some of these folks that are causing the problems off the streets,” Roberson said.

The Healing Communities Open House will have a variety of opportunities including hospital crisis supporters, community responders, mental health supporters, and more.

“We let folks know that the resources are available, that they don’t have to suffer in silence and that they’re not alone. So even if that’s knowing if I’m impacted there’s somebody that I can call who can come and help me address the grief, address the trauma,” Roberson said.

They hope with these resources and skills, people throughout the community learn, they can respond to a crisis faster and hopefully stop retaliation from happening.

“If we can have trained folks in the immediate aftermath to try and interrupt and quell those retaliations that could really have an impact on that retaliatory gun violence that we see sometimes,” Roberson said.

The open house show opportunities for hospital crisis supporters, community responders, resource navigators, wellness group facilitators, mental health supporters, and neighborhood safety meeting event helpers and facilitators. There are paid and volunteer positions available. They said they are looking for people interested in supporting and responding to people impacted by community violence.

The event will happen Monday, September 20th from 6:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m. at 704 Hickory Street in Champaign.

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