A Community in Healing
Content Warning: This article references topics of race-based violence and trauma.
In recent years, our community has been plagued with gun violence. In response, the Community Safety and Healing Fund (CSHF) was established through the Community Foundation of Louisville in partnership with the James Graham Brown Foundation, Cities United, and Louisville Metro Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods with the goal of making our community safer by enhancing existing efforts to reduce gun violence among populations most likely to be impacted by community violence. The CSHF focuses on providing resources to organizations that are working in the areas to reduce and prevent gun violence as well as support gun violence survivors.
With over $1.5 million distributed, the Community Safety and Healing Fund (CSHF) has supported 23 grants to 20 local organizations, including Play Cousins Collective, Spalding University’s Collective Care Center, and African American Wellness Agency. The funding these organizations have received through the CSHF has provided much-needed resources to meet the needs of the people they serve. We share with you a snapshot of impact from organizations coming together and addressing the root causes of community violence.
Increasing Access to Mental Health Resources
Since 2021, Play Cousins Collective has collaborated with Martin and Muir Counseling to break the stigma around mental health in African American communities by building awareness and providing free access to culturally competent providers in the West End of Louisville. “What we know is that when people aren’t getting their basic needs met, whether that is getting connected to community, food, housing, clothing, [education], medical care…they are not even worried about their mental health because they’re literally just trying to survive to get their basic needs met,” said Lauren Muir, Co-Founder of Martin and Muir Counseling.
“We may go into a house because we get a call from a school that this kid is struggling in their classes and they have some mental health stuff going on. It’s typically related to trauma [and] when we walk into their house, there is no food. Their mom is not worried about getting their kid into a therapy appointment. We are here to break down those barriers and meet our clients where they are.” The funding from the Community Safety & Healing Fund increased the organization’s capacity for breaking these barriers to serve students.
“It’s helped to sustain and scale what we do. Part of the funding has allowed us to go into schools and [provide] grief group [sessions] because so many students have lost people to suicide, homicide, and COVID. All [the students] were so [engaged] in the program that we ended up running what was originally a six-week program until the end of the school year.”
Training Next-Generation Healers
Collective Care Center aims to be a premier racial trauma clinic in areas of evidence-based racial trauma therapy and assessment across the lifespan of BIPOC individuals, racial trauma community education, and comprehensive clinical training for racial trauma therapy and assessment. “Racial trauma is complicated,” said Dr. Lucille Gardner, Director of the Collective Care Center. “Some might be managing financial distress, depression, and/or anxiety in addition issues and concerns related to race and racism.” Their current providers are working around the clock to:
- Help clinicians recognize the signs of racial-based trauma
- Educate patients or clients, or both, about signs of when they should seek support
- Provide resources for accessing mental health services
Through the Community Safety & Healing Fund grants and other sources of funding, the Center is able to service the community for free while training the next generation of clinicians. “The Black and Brown people doing this work are also experiencing racial trauma as they help other people, clients, and patients heal. And there aren’t enough people doing the work. It usually costs $200,000 for the degree, and lots of people don’t have that just sitting around. Through community grants, we’re able to reduce those barriers and provide stipends for student practicum at the Collective Care Center.”
Healing From Within
Through its local chapter in Louisville, Kentucky, African American Male Wellness Agency focuses on reducing disparities in premature death and chronic diseases among African American males in West Louisville. “We facilitate conversations through our Real Men Real Talk series, which is a safe space for Black men from ages 17 to over 90 years old by having group therapy sessions,” said Kamari Wooten, Local Coordinator with African American Wellness Agency. “We cover a range of topics from self-forgiveness, [coping] with trauma, violence, addiction, and more. We have four to five Black male therapists that facilitate the events, and after the event, [we] ask if they need one-on-one counseling.”
The funding from the Community Safety & Healing Fund has assisted the organization in its capacity to serve more people on a regular basis, including Black youth in the West End. “Last October, we had 13 people in one meeting, and now, we’re averaging 50 people per meeting. It’s building community. Sometimes, if you’re not right mentally, you can go out and do something that you may not intend to do. So, we’re really trying to get grassroots in the community to make sure young men have the community and mentorship to steer them in the right direction.”
Healing is an ongoing process that takes time, intention, and resources.
The Community Safety & Healing Fund is continuously working toward better ways to support nonprofits, help organizations grow, assist survivors, raise awareness, and advocate for policies that reduce violence. As a community, we can only move forward when everyone has a pathway to heal from the trauma of our past and find ways to new ways to prosper. “Community violence is tied to trauma,” said Lauren Muir, Co-Founder of Martin and Muir Counseling. “People are suffering the after-effects or symptoms of being involved or witnessing a trauma. The majority of our clients are from larger agencies that don’t feel safe dealing with them, and we don’t have that issue. We want to work with those clients.”
Want to support this work? Local leaders and residents help the Community Foundation of Louisville guide the timing and focus of the funding.