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Friday November 20th, 2015 marked the start to the 15th Annual Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month. The Opening Ceremony was held on Monday November 23rd at the State House and was hosted by State Senator Linda Dorcena-Forry. There were over 150 survivors, service providers, criminal justice professionals, faith leaders, and legislators from across the State. 

The theme of the morning and The Awareness Month is We're Still Here. Master of Ceremony and Program Coordinator at The Peace Institute, Alexandra Chery, made the message clear when she said, "During this month of awareness, we do not want anyone to feel bad for us, for we are survivors, we are powerful and we are resilient. The intention of this month is to build more power by building connection. We all know we are heard when we come together, because in Unity there is power." 
The speaking program included voices of survivors: Michael Patrick MacDonald, Darrin Howell and Denise Cosby. Both Darrin and Denise recently graduated from a writing workshop facilitated by Michael MacDonald, using his curriculum The Rest of the Story... They shared their stories of pain, anger, peace, power and action. These stories were products of the 4-week transformative writing course in partnership with The Peace Institute. See video here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/tb4z5gufnd13xup/Still%20Here%20-%20Statehouse%...

Liam Lowney, Executive Director of Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance spoke to the importance of funding for survivors and victims of crime. He reminded us of the power of survivors by sharing his own story of losing his sister to homicide and called everyone to action in advocating for federal funds to be put back into victims services and resources. To learn more, visit: http://www.mass.gov/mova/news-and-updates/

Attorney General Maura Healey reminded us that the holidays are a particularly hard time as survivors will be missing someone at the table. The Attorney General shared her commitment to working along side survivors of homicide victims, hearing the needs and travelling the journey with them.

Call to Action:
Please contact Alexandra Chery at the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute to join the Statewide Peer to Peer Survivor Network. 
Contact Rachel Rodrigues to join the Serving Survivors of Homicide Victims Network.
Donate to the Rest In Peace Fund: tinyurl.com/RestInPeaceFund 
Calendar of Events: http://ldbpeaceinstitute.org/news/celebrate-2015-survivors-homicide-vict...
To add your event to the Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month Calendar of Events, please fill out this form: http://goo.gl/forms/Zs7TtvRsZz

 

Commonwealth of Massachusetts
A PROCLAMATION
His Excellency Governor Charlie Baker

WHEREAS, The murder of a loved one robs their family of a mother, father, sister, brother, son, daughter, husband, wife, partner, grandparent, aunt, uncle, extended family member, friend, neighbor or colleague, and creates an overwhelming challenge to fill the void that their absence creates, and

WHEREAS Survivors of homicide victims are scattered across the Commonwealth and are in need of specific and targeted intervention that starts with death notification and goes far beyond the burial and in some cases the trial; and

WHEREAS Survivors use their tragedies to tell stories of pain and anger inflicted by a homicide.  They have rejected paths of retaliation, shame and isolation and instead lean toward healing, teaching and learning lessons of compassion and peace; and

WHEREAS Survivors of homicide victims want their murdered children and family members to be valued, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their deaths, and their surviving children to grow up in a safe environment, recognized for their human worth rather than as statistics waiting to happen; and

WHEREAS Throughout the year and particularly during the holidays, survivors of homicide victims experience overwhelming grief, isolation, and despair; and

WHEREAS Survivors and Providers use the 7 Principles of Peace: Love, Unity, Faith, Hope, Courage, Justice, and Forgiveness as a foundation to guide them on their journey toward healing.

WHEREAS Survivors of homicide victims transform their pain and anger into peace, power and action by honoring the memory of their loved ones impacted by homicide. Through leadership and advocacy, survivors are reducing violence and promoting peace and policy change on a local, state and national level and:

Now, Therefore, I, {Governor}, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, do hereby proclaim November 20th – December 20th, 2015, to be Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month And urge all the citizens of the Commonwealth to take cognizance of this event and participate fittingly in its observance.

By His Excellency