Yesterday, Aunt Martha’s Health & Wellness hosted Congresswoman Robin Kelly, Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Alderwoman Sue Garza, Reverend Michael Pfleger, and other stakeholders at our Southeast Side Community Health Center for a press conference regarding the bipartisan Safer Communities Act. As the Mayor, Congresswoman, and Alderwoman all shared, the Act’s anticipated impact throughout Illinois and the country in providing comprehensive community supports to address the gun violence we experience in this country is significant for our communities.
Pam Bosely, who lost her son Terrell to gun violence and now supports other victims and families, underscored this point by reminding us all that these preventable tragedies can and do impact us in places where we feel safest – on the grounds of a church and the sidelines of a parade – despite our best personal efforts. Congresswoman Kelly reminded us that it takes a village to keep each other safe and that this legislation begins to take these steps.
The importance of this legislation – the first meaningful federal gun legislation in nearly thirty years – is already known fully by those who care for our patients and participants in the many communities we serve. And after the horrific events that occurred in Highland Park on Monday during what was supposed to be a time of celebration, the importance of this legislation is brought into even sharper focus. As Governor Pritzker said, we should all be angry – angry that mass shootings have continued to occur in our communities unchecked for so long.
And beyond the tragic loss of life, the sorrow, and the personal grief, we know that gun violence traumatizes every member of our community. That trauma – repeated in our streets and replayed on our TVs – then lingers and festers. This is why the mental health, outreach, crisis intervention, and child welfare services that Aunt Martha’s provides in our communities are so vital. One important aspect of the bipartisan Safer Communities Act is that it aims to increase access to mental health services. We continue to rise to the occasion and provide these essential services in the communities that need them the most.
I pray that your loved ones are safe after the horrific events of Monday. Unfortunately, the current climate requires us to all stay vigilant and remain highly aware of our surroundings at all times. Please stay safe out there.