Home Nursing job ‘Day of Serenity’ in West Philadelphia aims to help heal victims of gun violence

‘Day of Serenity’ in West Philadelphia aims to help heal victims of gun violence

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The event, hosted by the newly formed community group Philly United As 1, offered residents one-on-one grief counseling, as well as trauma and forgiveness workshops. A radiation clinic and yoga classes were also on site, along with a children’s carnival, free haircuts and food.

During a short speakers program, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner encouraged attendees to vote against pro-gun candidates in Tuesday’s primary election. City Council member Curtis Jones, who represents parts of West Philly, stressed the need to teach people conflict resolution skills.

Community organizations offered resources to Philadelphians to fight gun violence and heal those affected during Serenity Day at Clara Muhammad Square, May 15, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

For Barr, the purpose of the day was to foster solidarity.

“Put aside petty grievances. Put away the little oxen. And come together and share resources,” Barr said.

Khayriyyah Murray nearly skipped the event, which was held at the Philadelphia Masjid.

Since her 24-year-old son was shot and killed at a gas station in March, she has avoided situations that would put her with a lot of people. She only recently returned to her job as a nurse for this reason.

But sitting inside the Masjid on Sunday, Murray said she was grateful her friend pushed her to make the trip from North Philly. Talking to other mothers who have lost children to gun violence made her feel less alone and a bit more optimistic about the future.

“I have a wonderful support system. My family hasn’t left me and my friends haven’t left me since. But when strangers come in and do that, it’s different. It’s like motherhood, a brotherhood. They know what you’re going through,” Murray said.

Khayriyyah Murray (left), a nurse, lost her 24-year-old son in March this year, said being around other mothers who have lost children to gun violence helps her to heal.  She met author Kimberly Kamara during Day of Serenity in Philadelphia on May 15, 2022.
Khayriyyah Murray (left), a nurse, lost her 24-year-old son in March this year, said being around other mothers who have lost children to gun violence helps her to heal. She met author Kimberly Kamara at Day of Serenity in Philadelphia on May 15, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Deborah Kelly came to discuss –– and sell –– the two dozen lessons contained in a book she wrote on parenting. All are rooted in one goal: to save lives.

Kelly said it starts at home with the relationships parents have with their children.

“There’s nothing wrong with telling your child you love them and having your eyes light up when they walk into the room. That’s how it should be. But we think, ‘Oh, you go spoil that kid. You can’t spoil that kid by showing them love. That’s what they need,” said Kelly, a certified parent educator who grew up in Germantown.

Deborah Kelly, certified parent educator and retired teacher, holds her book The Turnaround in Clara Muhammad Square on May 15, 2022.
Deborah Kelly, certified parent educator and retired teacher, holds her book The Turnaround in Clara Muhammad Square on May 15, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Why Not Prosper staff member Ivy Johnson nodded in agreement as Kelly spoke. She said communities must also come together and oppose gun violence.

It is unacceptable, she says, to consider the current level of violence as the norm.

“It’s not right that we live in a war zone,” said Johnson, whose organization works to prevent shootings from happening in the first place through the use of mediation.

“Every neighborhood is your neighborhood. You are responsible for every child that walks down this street, I don’t care where you are,” she added.

Ivy Johnson (left), founder of SWAG, Sisters With A Goal, an organization in Philadelphia's Germantown neighborhood that offers conflict resolution mediation, with former Pennsylvania State Representative Movita Johnson (right ) on Serenity Day on May 15, 2022.
Ivy Johnson (left), founder of SWAG, Sisters With A Goal, an organization in Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood that offers conflict resolution mediation, with former Pennsylvania State Representative Movita Johnson (right ) on Serenity Day on May 15, 2022 (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)