Back by Popular Demand: Fostering Good Mental Health for Students

Monday, November 23, 2020
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Zoom Monthly Meeting (link in calendar of events below)

The compelling message in an earlier GAGV program from suicide survivor Jennifer Levinson, Community Outreach Coordinator for the SPEAK UP Foundation, has prompted her return this month to share more about the Foundation’s Sources of Strength program (SOS). Jennifer will be joined by SOS certified trainer Sondra Wallace who coordinates the Kansas City Mental Health Coalition for Jewish Family Services.

They’ll delve more deeply into how the SOS program and its eight keys promotes good mental health among young people by reducing feelings of anxiety, depression and anger which can lead to suicide. Two-thirds of gun-related deaths are suicides. Join us to hear how SOS complements GAGV’s mission to reduce gun violence.

How to Go Beyond Thoughts and Prayers

Specific ways of moving from ideas to action were shared in last week’s Zoom follow-up to October’s 7th annual Community Forum: Going Beyond Thoughts and Prayers.

“It was a good discussion,” Carol Gee, a GAGV member who moderated the follow-up, wrote in an email. “Now we need to decide how best and what to implement.” Among the many suggestions:

  • Ask GAGV members to identify a group of legislators with whom to remain in ongoing contact during and after legislative sessions.
  • Ask a recognized, local sports figure to lend his/her name to a gun turn-in program.
  • Adopt an inner-city faith congregation and provide nutritious food options because poor nutrition and violent behavior often go together.
  • Support organizations that teach young children conflict resolution skills.

Also discussed were more creative ways to distribute free gun locks along with responsible ownership information, perhaps through pediatricians’ offices and during food and clothing drives now underway as winter arrives. Implementing a Random Acts of Kindness program to alleviate some of the stress of COVID-19 fatigue was also suggested.

“Many of these ideas will make terrific advocacy actions we can undertake,” said Judy Sherry, GAGV president. “Some may have to wait until the pandemic is under better control and we can meet again in person. Others we can certainly get started now.”

The GAGV Board will review the ideas and prioritize those to implement. Of course, volunteers will be needed to turn these ideas into action. If you are interested in helping, please contact Judy Sherry.

    GAGV Still at Work During the Pandemic

    COVID-19 has transformed everyone’s activities, but GAGV has adapted to “the new normal” and continues working on projects now and into 2021. Here’s an update:

    Our 7th annual, but first-ever virtual, Community Forum had more than 200 attendees tuned in to the three-hour webinar with most staying through the entire event. Others shared the post-Forum link to further the message of going beyond thoughts and prayers. View the recorded forum here.

    GAGV’s gun safety education program implemented a new model since many community events, both inside and outdoors, have been cancelled due to the pandemic. GAGV now partners with Harvesters, the KCMO Health Department and other community groups to participate primarily in drive-through food distribution events. At several of the events, participants have said getting a gun lock was the main reason they had waited in line.

    Since the pandemic began, GAGV has participated in 15 events and distributed 929 free high-quality gun locks. That’s an average of 60 locks per event, more than in-person events. This may be due to the increased sale of firearms (17 million sold in 2020 so far) and concerns about domestic abuse and mental health during the pandemic.

    GAGV volunteers wear masks, practice social distancing, use plenty of hand sanitizer and sometimes need rain gear! Because the drive-through lines move quickly, time doesn’t allow for police to demonstrate the gun lock. Instead, volunteers distribute pre-packaged clear bags that include the lock, more detailed instructions and educational materials.

    Last month LIFL partnered with KCPD, the local faith community and Harvesters in the inaugural Faith and Blue Weekend, a major nation-wide undertaking. GAGV distributed 295 free gun locks at three successful events on October 9 and 10, hosted by two KCPD Patrols. All were drive-thru and gave participants perishable food, hand sanitizer, wipes, exterior light bulbs, crime prevention information. If you’re interested in volunteering with LIFL, email us.

    Many LIFL volunteers worked with Overland Park Police Officer Mike Mosher, who was killed in the line of duty in May. GAGV member Rebecca Mathews created a Vision Quilt panel in his honor that was framed and presented September 25 to his parents and members of the police department.

    Scott and Shellee Mosher, Barb McNeile, Rebecca Mathews, Chris Glenski and OP Police Chief Frank Donchez

    We are still getting panels and are delighted! Since we now know the pandemic will cause us to be at home more this fall and winter than we had once hoped, creating a panel could be a meaningful project. Plenty of material is available and we’ll happily arrange getting it to you, just contact Judy Sherry.

    Quilt panels by Colonial Church, Debbie Lerner, Maragthera Fienfock and Julie Metzler.

    Transitioning to Zoom for monthly meetings and programs has gone smoothly and will continue into 2021 until it’s safe to meet again at Colonial Church. We’ll also Zoom to resume meeting with committees, including the group planning monthly programs. Help on that committee is always welcome!

    Keeping socially distanced and wearing masks, a few GAGV members met last month with Officer Jason Cooley, who heads the KCPD Community Interaction Officers program. We discussed additional ways to keep involved with the community and then gave Officer Cooley a very brief ‘tour’ of the small GAGV office on the second floor of Colonial Church.

    Officer Jason Cooley, Jan Brunks, Chris Glenski and Barb NcNeile.

    Calendar of Events

    Friday November 13:
    National Philanthropy Day

    In recognition of that date, The Independent magazine is publishing a “Give KC” booklet. GAGV is among the advertisers, giving us an excellent opportunity to our share message with the philanthropic community.

    Monday, November 23
    4:00-5:00 pm
    Zoom Monthly Meeting: Fostering Good Mental Health for Students
    Zoom Meeting Link
    Password: GAGV
    Meeting ID: 556 410 9298

      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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