Dear PAAC and Community Leaders,

I woke up to sadness this morning. 6 children directly affected by gun violence in which 2 of the juveniles were killed at 3am this morning. As a result of police activity, Burton Elementary School went into remote learning. My heart breaks for the children in the surrounding area and what they experienced. I know that DPS has school counselors, social workers and psychologists who support the social and emotional wellness of our children. Our children still need more. They need us (moms, dads, grandparents, aunties, uncles, godparents, etc…) standing in the gap.

I am grieving as so many others are in our community right now. And, we have to push through our grief and support those who are most fragile and most vulnerable – our children. It will take a village to reclaim the promise for our children. Madam Mayor Elaine O’Neal has stated that we are better than this. That Durham is better than this. It will take a community to support our youth. She has called for all citizens to commit to 2.5 to 5 hours of volunteer service per week outside of your regular circle.

It takes volunteers such as yourselves who work so hard to support your own children and stand in the gap for others. You have already stood above and beyond, and it makes a difference. I still ask, what more can we do? With the call to action from Mayor O’Neal, I call on you to think out of the box and bring your thoughts and ideas on how we can reach more.  In honor of Ella Baker as we celebrate her birth 12/13, we lift up her words and beliefs. Baker believed that everyday, people need to be their own leaders. She believed that a small but highly dedicated group is more powerful than a crowd of one-time marchers.

We are everyday people. We are a small and mighty group within our individual schools, and we are greater when we connect across the district. This space was created for such a time as this to support each other, to heal with one another and to reach more children. Please, bring any ideas that we can organize around. Please, bring any ideas where we can recruit more volunteers to support our youth. Please, bring any ideas on how we can support our community. This is what we are here for.

In Unity,

Jovonia Lewis