HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – A group in Hartford is working to help families who lose loved ones to street violence.
Carmen Rodriguez knows the pain of street violence in the city. She carries reminders of it every day – a button with a picture of her son, Kennedy Burgess.
Burgess was shot and killed in Hartford nearly 20 years ago. His ashes are part of his mother’s necklace. When he was first murdered, Rodriguez didn’t think she could carry on.
“I wanted to mask the pain,” Rodriguez said.
But she got help from a group called Mothers United Against Violence.
“Without them, I think I would’ve been so lost,” Rodriguez said.
When other families lose their loved ones to street violence in Hartford, Mothers United Against Violence tries to help them by offering therapy and support.
“I wanted to make sure that you, first of all, had enough resources in the house, food, clothes for the young children and for your grandchildren,” Rodriguez said.
In cases like Rodriguez’s, support can continue long after the tragedy occurred because the pain never leaves you.
“So, right now, they help me with grief counseling, referrals to counseling for PTSD, they bring food by, every day someone calls and checks on me,” Rodriguez said.
Mothers United Against Violence was started by Henrietta Beckman after her own son, Randall, was killed in Hartford in 2002. He was 20-years-old.
“A white SUV approached him. From that, he was shot three times. Once in the head, once in the arm, once in the leg,” Beckman said.
It was enough for Beckman to do something, not only to help other families but to try and break the cycle of young people dying too soon.
“A lot of the kids who were getting shot were kids that I taught, so I feel for the community and I feel for our young people,” Beckman said.
She started Mothers United Against Violence with Reverend Henry Brown. They often hold rallies in their fight to save the streets in Hartford, to get people to stand up and come forward with tops to help police catch the killers.
“One of the things Mothers United Against Violence wanted to do was to show that we were concerned about the loss of life in our community and that somebody had to be held accountable,” Rev. Brown said.
So impressed with their passion and compassion, Rodriguez decided to join Mothers United Against Violence and be part of their crusade.
“We give out literature on services and all kinds of after-school programs that are being supported by us. We do a lot of work in the community trying to keep the kids off the streets,” Rodriguez said.
She says her son would be proud.
“Because of Mothers United Against Violence, I didn’t step back, I stepped up,” Rodriguez said. “I think he’s looking down on us and he’s proud that we didn’t give up.”