Preventing Gun Violence: How My Life’s Work Became My Life’s Purpose
Glenn G. Grayson is being honored as a Gun Violence Prevention Champion of Change.
Columbine, Virginia Tech, Western Psych, Aurora, Sandy Hook, and the list goes on and on; 34 Americans are murdered with guns every single day. Despite my best efforts, I could not shield even my own family from the senseless violence that occurred. On October 17, 2010 my innocent son, Jeron Xavier Grayson, became a part of this tragic statistic when he lost his life through senseless gun violence.
Rewind 14 years to the founding of the Center that C.A.R.E.S. At that time, I knew that the more exposure a child has to educational and cultural experiences, the less likely they are to turn to violence—especially gun violence—to solve their problems.
C.A.R.E.S., which stands for Children/Adult Recreational and Educational Services, is much more than an acronym. It represents the foundation on which youth and young adults can build their lives with positive experiences that expand their learning. The C.A.R.E.S. Promise to every child who enters its doors is to be met personally where they are in their diverse levels of personal, social and academic development. Each child will be given a helping hand to climb, step-by-step to meet adulthood with the strength and courage to be able to reach their life’s plans and goals.
Over the years, C.A.R.E.S. has had a lasting impact in the lives of more than 2,500 families by providing year-round educational programs, cultural experiences, recreational activities and social services to inner-city youth.
In 2011, to continue the important community work that we’d begun and to make good on the life of my son and the many lives of other innocent victims of gun violence, the Center that C.A.R.E.S. purchased a 14,000 sq. ft. community center in Pittsburgh. The center, which sits in the heart of the Pittsburgh’s Hill District, had been closed for more than 12 years at the time of purchase.
Upon opening in July 2014, the community center will be renamed the Jeron X. Grayson Community Center and will be devoted to continuing the necessary preventative work of enriching the lives of middle school and high school students, with an increased emphasis on preventing gang activity and gun violence.
Bringing communities together to do this work is the heart of our outreach. The Jeron X. Grayson Foundation, corporate and populous communities led the efforts in funding the $2 million renovation of the center, which will serve more than double the number of youth and families C.A.R.E.S. currently serves.
My life’s work has been and will continue to be identifying as many resources and community members as possible to save the lives of our youth through preventing gun violence.
Currently, I work with organizations including Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN) Gun Violence Task Force, Cease Fire PA, Allegheny County Ask Campaign, Hill District Minister Alliance and Heinz Endowment for African American Men and Boys, to find ways to positively affect the lives of young people for generations to come.
Further, my immediate family also created the Jeron X. Grayson Foundation, where the mission is to increase the public awareness of the impact of gun violence through education, community outreach and grant-making services.
Jeron Grayson, who was affectionately known as "G", was also passionate about making a difference and he especially cared about gun violence and its effect on his community and society. “G” now serves as a reminder that “G” stands for Never Touch a Gun!
Rev. Glenn G. Grayson is the Pastor of Wesley Center A.M.E. Zion Church, the founder of the Center that C.A.R.E.S. and an activist for gun violence prevention in Pittsburgh, PA.