Throughout November, we've been shining light on survivors of homicide victims and their tireless work toward more peaceful communities.
November is the beginning of Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month. There are so many community events happening in honor of survivors - we hope you'll be inspired to attend! The Awareness Month happens from November 20 - December 20 because the holidays can be a painful time for families of murder victims. Being together during Awareness Month to celebrate our loved ones' lives is so important.
This week we want to shine the spotlight on Lisa Daniels and her powerful work in the field of restorative justice based in Chicago!
Lisa Daniels is the founder of The Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices.
Lisa's son Darren was murdered in 2012.
Can you share a memory of your loved one who was murdered?
On my 37th birthday, Darren was 13 years old and he wanted to give me a surprise party. The problem was he had no money and there was a major snow storm. Darren got home from school before I made it home from work and was calling all of my friends and family not only inviting them to attend a surprise party for me but asking them to bring food, beverages and cake. Because the weather was so bad no one was willing to come out--and I completely understood--however everyone he called found his intention so heartwarming, I began getting calls at work from family and friends telling me of the surprise that wasn't going as planned and how disappointed Darren was. I stopped on the way home and picked up a pizza and Darren and I had a surprise party for two. It remains today one of the most beautiful birthday memories I have.
How does your experience as a survivor of a homicide victim shape your work and your life?
The experience of having lost my son in this manner - having been murdered as a result of his life choices and the violent lifestyle he chose to live - has reshaped my perspective on how I view and respect the life choices of everyone in my world. As much as I would have liked for my son to have taken all of the tools he was given to make productive life choices, he didn't and as a result he died and (for my own peace of mind) I have to respect his decision. As much as I dislike it, I must respect it. This experience has shaped my work by opening my eyes to the truth that we are all connected by our humanity and even though we are all different we are all the same with the same basic needs - to be loved and to be heard. To know that we matter.
What are you doing to inform, influence, and impact policy and how can the community support your peacemaking efforts?
In an effort to inform, influence and impact not only policy but the community at-large and quite possibly the nation, I have established a community service organization in my son's honor, The Darren B. Easterling Center for Restorative Practices. The Center is founded on the belief that, by our humanity, we are all connected. Our mission is to address the individual behaviors at the core of gun-violence through comprehensive and holistic programming. Through restorative practices, we serve children and young adults who have experienced violent crime as either a victim or an offender.
Thank you so much Lisa for sharing your story and for your courage and commitment!