LYNCHBURG, Va. – Several people came out to the Jubilee Center in the Hill City Thursday night to voice their ideas on how to bring healing to the community.
There have been seven homicides in Lynchburg already this year, most of them involving young people.
“Lynchburg having seven murders already in the beginning of the year, I had to do something,” Sterling Wilder with Lynchburg City Council says.
For Wilder, that something was bringing the community together. Although he never understood just how much it was needed.
“People are hurting and want to share their feelings,” he says. “For example, the lady who talked about the fires in her backyard and how she can’t even sleep at night anymore without hearing gunshots.”
For many living in Lynchburg, the rising violence involving youth is personal.
“I feel for these kids. I was one of these kids,” Inspiration Church Pastor Destin Tanner says. “My brother was killed and I know so many people that were killed that I went to school with.”
While Tanner says it’s great to have leaders showing up with ideas, we need to hear from the kids themselves.
“When I was going through what I was going through and dealing with all of my issues, no one listened to me,” he says. “No one sat down and said, ‘What do you need? Why are you thinking like this?’ When we listen to these kids, I think they’re smarter than we think they are.”
Something kids are asking for--more role models in the community to set an example.
“Grow them up with good intentions to not do those things,” 14-year-old Simieon Mclillan says.
“Try to get your kids into an activity like sports or band,” 16-year-old Jacob Jarvis says.
Only July 29, there will be another community forum where leaders hope to take these ideas and execute them.
“Our community has some challenges and it’s going to be all of us working together to fill those gaps to fill those voids,” Wilder says. “It’s looking at what we can do as a village to bring our village back together.”
There will be another chance to voice your ideas on how to make the Hill City a safer place. One Community, One Voice is inviting you to Miller Park Friday night at 6.