Last night Supervisor Rich Desmond held a "Community Healing and Awareness Forum" at Howe Park. The meeting was put together in response to last week's tragic gun violence at a church on Wyda Way that resulted in the death of five people. The meeting involved a panel of speakers from regional non-profit organizations (Weave, My Sister's House, Family Justice Center) and county entities (Sheriff's and District Attorney's Offices). Their presentations were intended to discuss the horrific tragedy in our community and increase awareness about domestic violence by: 1) respecting the victims, particularly the innocent children and church member and 2) informing the community of resources available to deal with issues of mental health, domestic violence, sexual abuse and child abuse. The panel speakers wanted the community to know the signs of abuse and be able to access resources for victims. Thirty people and two media organizations attended, which is remarkable given the short notice for the meeting. Retiring Supervisor Don Nottoli also came to the meeting.
Supervisor Desmond is clearly very different from his predecessor on the Board of Supervisors. His statements and behavior at the meeting demonstrated his sense of responsibility to our community and his sensitivity to the concerns of his constituents. That's something we are not used to getting from our Supervisor and it is certainly praiseworthy. Still, it was apparent from the presentations that:
- Many people in the County struggle every day with mental health, violence and abusive relationships,
- There are non-profit and governmental entities across the region that work to solve mental health, violence and abusive relationship problems,
- The need/demand for services aimed at mental health, violence and abusive relationship problems overwhelms the ability to provide the necessary services.
The community's interest in the subject was demonstrated by active and lengthy post-meeting conversations. Here's hoping for progress going forward towards the goal of preventing senseless tragedies like last week's murders.