On the eve of Mother's Day, community leaders gathered at Hartford's Adventist Academy to show support for mothers who've lost children to gun violence.
Amidst a rise in city shootings, the YWCA Hartford Region organized Saturday’s candlelight vigil, not only to show support but to also make a public plea to stop the violence.
This comes nearly one month after two shootings that happened within hours of each other claimed the lives of two children. On April 10, 3-year-old Randell Jones was shot on Nelson Street and 16-year-old Jamari Preston was killed only a few blocks away on Magnolia Street.
YWCA Director of Community Engagement Malinda Johnson is calling for a community effort to stop the violence.
"When we lose our youth, we lose the potential for progress. We lose the opportunity for change. We lose so much that will never know when we lose youth," said Johnson.
Among the mothers attending the vigil was Darlene Childs. Darlene arrived wearing a large heart-shaped pendant with a prominent photo of her son Chase Hernandez.
Henandez was shot and killed on February 18, 2017. Childs said although it was four years ago, it feels like yesterday. She attended the vigil to help support mothers like herself.
"Every day, I hear of another child losing their life to gun violence it opens up the wound all over again. It’s unnecessary. I don’t think that mothers should have to deal with losing their child to the streets like that," said Childs.
She is also advocating for the community to come together, specifically mothers like herself.
Childs said mothers who have lost children to street violence have the strongest voices, and she wants them to be heard.