Family Caregivers for a Safe Community

Denise
familycaregiversforsafecommunities (2)Twenty years ago, I volunteered as a Meals on Wheels driver in Peoria, Ill. Although I lived several miles north of Peoria, I volunteered to deliver meals to homebound individuals on the other side of Peoria. Other volunteers refused to drive into that neighborhood because it was the dangerous part of the city. The violence in that community isolated those homebound individuals even more: The danger often kept them from help simply because the help hesitated to venture into their community.

A few weeks ago during our evening chat, we talked about the violence in our communities. One of our members said, "The violence in my neighborhood isolates me more than the caregiving experience."

To ensure both family caregivers and their carees live in safe communities, I've started an awareness campaign to gain even more support for Sandy Hook Promise, a national non-profit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Based in Newtown, Conn., the organization's intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation by providing programs and practices that protect children and prevent the senseless, tragic loss of life.

Sandy Hook Promise focuses on:

1. Building A National Base by attracting, educating and engaging parents, schools and community organizations to join SHP through social media, advertising, speaking engagements, major events and initiatives.

2. Organizing at a Community Level by identifying, training and empowering volunteer “Promise Leaders” to raise awareness, educate and deliver programs to help prevent gun violence in their community.

3. Developing and Delivering Mental Health & Wellness Programs that identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals and gun safety practices that ensure firearms are kept safe and secure.

4. Advocating for State and Federal Policy by mobilizing and leveraging our national base and Promise Leaders for the passage of sensible mental health & wellness and gun safety laws.

I spent quite a bit of time researching what we need to keep our communities safe and what measures other countries use which work. As I read about organizations already doing great work to keep our communities safe, I decided the best we could do is support what's already being done. I chose Sandy Hook Promise because of its focus on our vulnerable citizens. And, what protects children will protect our carees. In addition to promoting gun safety, Sandy Hook Promise creates mental health programs for at-risk children and teens.

You can learn more about the Sandy Hook Promise via the video, below, which features the mom of a child killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Then visit the website to take the Sandy Hook Promise: "I promise to do all I can to protect children from gun violence by encouraging and supporting solutions that create safer, healthier homes, schools and communities." (Please feel free to silently add "caree" as you take the pledge. Or, simply change out "children" for "my family and my community.")

In our communities, we care for our children, our parents, our family members. Because we care, we need help and support. We deserve to live in communities that care enough to keep us safe so we can continue to give and receive care.

If you support our initiative, please feel free to share our message across your social networks. And, if you have a story about how violence in your community affects you and your caree, please tell us about it so we can share your story on Caregiving.com.

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