STOCKTON (CBS13) — Community organizers in Stockton are teaming up to help families impacted by gun violence.
On Monday, the doors to the new Movement Empowerment Center will officially open, providing residents hope in a safe space filled with resources.
Twenty-six years ago, Darlene Vultcher Guyton lost her husband, Rodney Watts, senior in gun violence. Just last year, her stepson, Rodney, Jr. was also gunned down.
“It’s disheartening, to know that the cycle is continuing on,” she said.
Guyton is the co-founder of the new organization focused on helping heal families who are destroyed by tragedy.
“We’re trying to stop the cycle of lost children who are growing and becoming lost adults. We’re looking to make a difference in our community by being present,” said Guyton.
The center will offer support groups and counseling services. The women will also have empowerment classes for families still struggling to cope with the sudden loss of their loved one.
“I know when I lost my child, I didn’t have those resources. I didn’t have anyone to reach out to. I was kind of left alone to kind of figure it out,” said Stockton parent, Jeanniee Jones.
Jones who lost her child almost five years ago says the center will be an added resource in the community as the number of homicides continues to climb.
“More recently, yes, a lot of young deaths due to violent crimes, sudden death as well that a lot of people kind of overshadow or don’t recognize,” she said.
The center will also be a place where survivors of gun violence can find their voice and use their personal stories to help in crime prevention.
“Crime survivors are the most important part, those voices have to be amplified and heard because it puts a personal story to those experiences,” said Tashante McCoy-Ham, co-founder of the Movement Empowerment Center.
Through mentorship and after-school programs, the center will also offer a safe zone for young people to learn and inspire to one day be great leaders.
The doors to the new center open on Monday.