For many Americans, Memorial Day weekend was a necessary break to welcome summer with their loved ones. But for hundreds of families in America, last week was unspeakably tragic.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, 156 people in America were killed by guns between Friday evening and Tuesday morning. The devastating weekend closed out a horrific month that included mass shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo; an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas; and in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.
Gun violence touches our community every day, particularly in underserved areas where resources are scarce. Young people are increasingly turning to violence, driven by survival instincts, boredom, or sheer youthful ignorance. As we wrote about on our blog earlier this week, gun violence nearly cost Jahlil Wormley his life shortly before he joined the Solar Works DC program.
There are no quick fixes for this lethal epidemic, but more effective gun control and further investments in mental health would be a great place to start. (There’s no reason to invest in one and not the other.)
In our community, we must also work to provide opportunities for young people that steer them away from guns and out of violent situations.
We regularly see how Solar Works DC helps individuals better their lives and their careers by gaining solar jobs. Over the years we have expanded the program to provide case management services. These measures support trainees’ mental health, help them out of adverse situations (like homelessness), and connect them with resources that can benefit them and their families.
Last week’s darkness affected me deeply. I ache for those that lost children, parents, grandparents, and close friends to absolutely senseless violence.
Yet stories like Jahlil’s remind me that the work we do makes a difference—that when we all pull together to help others, we do make our world a little bit better. I’m excited to see Jahlil’s career flourish. And I can’t help but think of what future trainees will do with their opportunity.
Thanks for all that you do for us, and the communities we serve.
Executive Director, GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic