Three Roanoke groups to share $550,000 in gun violence prevention grants
Roanoke officials hope new money and new programs will reverse the city’s growing gun violence rate.
Three organizations will split the $550,000 in federal and state grants.
Carilion Clinic will bring on care coordinators in a Violent Injury Recovery and Support Program. The coordinators will help connect patients injured by gun violence with community resources before they even leave the hospital.
Family Service of Roanoke Valley will offer counseling at the EnVision Center in northwest Roanoke. Services will be available five days a week. CEO Linda Hentschel said bringing the services into the community will help reduce the stigma of counseling. She also noted that 40% of recent gun violence victims live in the northwest quadrant of the city.
Total Action for Progress will start an emergency relocation program to get families out of violence hot spots. TAP CEO Annette Lewis said it’s modeled on a program that has helped domestic violence survivors. "We found this model to be very successful and we believe it will help these families. Many of them don’t move because they don’t have the resources to." Lewis said up to twelve families will be relocated during the grant period.
The programs are the latest steps in the city’s effort to build a community approach to the problem. Vice-Mayor Joe Cobb chairs the city’s Gun Violence Prevention Commission and spoke at Thursday's announcement. "These connections can mean the difference between someone getting caught in the culture of gun violence and breaking out of it."
William Dungee also spoke. He lost his son to gun violence seven months ago and now volunteers with the city's RESET mentoring program. "And although I couldn’t save my child, I’m trying to build a village so that other parents don’t have to go through the hurt and pain," Dungy said. "This is why I became a mentor for the RESET program."
Roanoke police reported a 21% increase in gun-related crimes from 2020 to 2021. Carilion’s trauma center at Roanoke Memorial Hospital, which serves a most of Southwest Virginia, reported a 48% increase in gun-related injuries between 2019 and 2021.