Happy New Year and Welcome to 2020: The Year of Collaboration

Monday, January 27
4:00 – 5:45 pm
Colonial Church in Prairie Village
(lower level, east side at back)
7039 Mission Road

We’ve probably all heard this phrase before: Two + Two = Five. As we begin the year 2020 and the start of a new decade, the idea of strength in numbers is more important than ever.

We’ve seen the results of anger and divisiveness and are now even more committed to make our voices heard by joining others who share our goals and concerns. An obvious first step is to learn more about some of those local groups who have supported our annual Community Forum and who will be dynamic partners working together to address the tragedy of gun violence and its many ramifications. By understanding each group’s goals and unique skills of its volunteers, we can build a strong team of advocates and avoid duplication of efforts.

Collaboration is the key. This month we’ll hear from leaders representing five organizations whose work we can complement: AdHoc Group Against Crime, Indivisible KC, MainStream Coalition, Moms Demand Action and #Zero Reasons Why. Each representative will share his/her group’s goals and current activities, and most importantly, share concrete ideas about how we can work together on key activities.

This quote from famed anthropologist Margaret Mead perfectly sets the tone for our Year of Collaboration: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

So join us January 27 for this informative and energizing program. You’ll leave knowing how those Five + Our 1 = Hundreds making a difference!

Advocacy Corner

In 2020 we’ll continue our commitment to encouraging an advocacy action at every meeting. One that is already in the works is a postcard program to send to area legislators on both sides of the state line during the three months of their respective sessions. A committee sub-group is working on a series of three postcards highlighting key facts relating to gun violence and urging legislators to act on bills to address them. We will introduce the first in the series at our February meeting.

At the December meeting, we distributed completed yard signs to more than 30 attendees. Many of us are already displaying them. The message is clear: 60% of gun deaths are by suicide and safe gun storage can save lives. The signs will be available at every GAGV meeting. Our hope is to see them displayed throughout the metro area. Each sign costs $10. GAGV has underwritten the cost for the initial order, so the first sign is free to members. If you want more than one sign, we’d appreciate a donation of $5 to $10 so we can keep purchasing and distributing more of them.

This Gun Safety Scorecard was profiled in The TRACE, an excellent source of information about gun violence and its prevention. The premise of the scorecard is that since Congress has done little to pass sensible gun legislation, more businesses are stepping up to counter the effect of the estimated 393 million firearms in the U.S. We already know Levi’s, TOMS and Dick’s have taken positive steps. Take the time to read the article, check the scores of the businesses you may already support and then decide what future buying decisions you want to make. No doubt the Advocacy Committee will make some suggestions for action as well.

December Meeting Highlights: Speaker Recap & Volunteer of the Quarter

Local author, publisher and educator Barbara Unell explained the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study and its results to a crowd of close to 80 attendees. This study was conducted by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 1995 and 1997 with long-term follow up conducted for health outcomes. The study demonstrated an association of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) with mental and physical repercussions throughout life. Read more about the study and the discussion at the meeting. Get your ACE score here.

Jan Brunks was presented the Pat Russell Volunteer of the Quarter award by Board member Barb McNeile, co-chair of Lock it For Love & Development. Jan was recognized for her outstanding assistancewith the myriad administrative details of the October Community Forum as well as her work on the Lock It For Love program. She has served both as a volunteer at events and has also helped behind the scenes, including coordination of Sign Up Genius to make it easier for volunteers to sign up for scheduled events.

Mark Your Calendars

Monday, January 27 GAGV Monthly Meeting – A review of 2019 and a preview of 2020

We have named 2020 The Year of Collaboration and will have representatives from various groups we plan to work with to achieve our common goal of preventing gun violence.

Monday February 24 GAGV Monthly Meeting – Facts and Civil Conversation

In the year 2020 it will be more important than ever to have current statistics about gun violence and to learn some tools for sharing them in a non-combative way.

    Sandy Hook Vigil

    Lona Harris, Carla and Scott Oppenheimer and Bruce Davison (bottom) represented GAGV at the at the annual vigil commemorating Sandy Hook while also remembering the local loss of lives this year. This vigil and our signs were covered by KCTV5.


    News You Can Use 

    Starting the year off with some good news!

    Newtown High School won the Connecticut state football championship on December 14, the seventh anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. The brother of one of the players was among the children killed that day.

    ‘A storybook ending’: Newtown High School’s championship win on anniversary of Sandy Hook shooting garners nationwide outpouring

    According to statistics submitted to a national study, the number of KU students voting in two recent elections doubled in four years, from 21% in 2014 to nearly 45% in 2018. Impressive!

    College Student Voting Doubled at KU, According to National Study

    Still, we must stay informed and active when the news is bad or simply crazy.

    For example, there’s a move afoot by some Kansas legislators to criminalize enforcing Red Flag Laws, and the K.C. Star rightly called them out for even considering it.

    Could this bill banning ‘red flag’ gun laws make Kansas a sanctuary state for danger?


    It’s been a very busy and rewarding year for GAGV. Our Board and dedicated volunteers have educated the community, advocated for change and participated in events all directed at reducing gun violence. Following is an overview of what we’ve accomplished. There’s more to achieve so we’ve also included our goals for the new year. With your help, we will meet and exceed them!

    Among our accomplishments in 2019:

    • Distributed 2,780 free gun locks at 115 events through GAGV’s Lock It For Love (LIFL) program. Some 74 volunteers have been involved with the program since it began in July of 2017.
    • Received a $6,300 grant from Health Forward Foundation to purchase the gun locks distributed through LIFL.
    • Continued partnering on LIFL events with Children’s Mercy Hospital, 12 police departments on both sides of the state line and three Suicide Prevention Coalitions.
    • Organized the successful 6th Annual Community Forum featuring Azim Khamisa and Ples Felix, two California men whose lives were tragically linked by gun violence. Close to 300 people attended the event, co-sponsored by the 30 community organizations of the Heartland Coalition Against Gun Violence, a program of Grandparents Against Gum Violence representing 10,000 residents in Kansas and Missouri.
    • Provided stimulating monthly educational programs drawing an average attendance of more than 70 people to hear speakers discussing the many different facets of gun violence.
    • Encouraged those attendees to participate in Acts of Advocacy after each program, ranging from writing ‘spanks or thanks’ postcards to legislators and retailers to displaying motivational yard signs at their homes.
    • Ended the year with GAGV membership at 260 dues-paying members and increased our database to 1,962 contacts.
    • Continued to be recognized by local print and broadcast media as a reliable source in reporting gun-related issues in the news.
    • Increased our social media presence on Facebook and continued publication of our monthly e-newsletter.

     Get Ready for 2020 & the Year of Collaboration! We plan to:

    • Seek out more like-minded organizations to partner with on complementary projects.
    • Attract new dues-paying members to support our work and amplify our impact through increased numbers.
    • Keep existing members engaged and committed with meaningful volunteer opportunities, excellent monthly programs and Acts of Advocacy.
    • Produce for the seventh consecutive year an outstanding Community Forum addressing gun violence, in collaboration with the community supporters of the Heartland Coalition Against Gun Violence.
    • Strengthen the Heartland Coalition through increased interaction among its participants.
    • Expand our three-year-old Lock It For Love program throughout the metro area and beyond.
    • Secure additional grants to fund a part-time administrative assistant and finance professional office space.

    2020 GAGV Board of Directors

    Judy Sherry ……………………………………………… Founder and President

    Charlotte Davison …………………………………….. Secretary

    Lona Harris ……………………………………………… Treasurer

    Carla Oppenheimer ………………………………….. Heartland Coalition & Community Forum

    Barb McNeile …………………………………………… Lock It For Love & Development

    Chris Glenski …………………………………………… Lock It For Love & Development

    Joan Jacobsen ………………………………………… Volunteers & Membership

    Grandparents Against Gun Violence is a 501(c)(3) organization based in Kansas City, Missouri, that focuses on issues related to gun violence in Kansas and Missouri. We are working with community partners on strategies such as distributing gun locks to help gun owners protect the children in their homes from tragedy.

    P.O. Box 11193, Overland Park, KS 66207  |  [email protected]

    Donate to Grandparents Against Gun Violence

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