‘Wear Orange’ clean-up event honors victims and survivors of gun violence, promises park improvement

·3 min read

Volunteers wore orange in solidarity with victims and survivors of gun violence to clean up New Town’s Success Park.

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A red shotgun cartridge that turned up, served as a reminder of why they were there.

“Make sure that no other family goes through what our family has gone through in losing family members to gun violence,” Crystal Turner said.

Turner lost her daughter Jenea Havrison and son Donell Miller McDonald, Jr. on the same day.

“On April 1st, 2015, my daughter Jenea and my younger son Donell were both shot and killed at my daughter’s business by my daughter’s estranged husband,” she said.

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Now, she and her husband are raising their two grandchildren on her daughter’s side, 12-year-old Roy and 5-year-old Royce Harvison.

“We’ve had our hurdles but what we stand on is love, compassion, and commitment to each other,” she explained.

That commitment is what pushes them to support these efforts.

“Making sure that our young children such as my own grandchildren can have a place where they can come and just be kids,” she emphasized. “Every park is a part of gun [violence] prevention.”

“It’s just so we can come out here so we can have fun. Hang out. Do what we should be doing and being kids,” said 12-year-old Roy.

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This is also the kickoff to a bigger project from Edward Waters University (EWU) which will transform the park by this fall.

A lot of the playground equipment is visibly melted and damaged. Part of the renovations include replacing it altogether, adding flowers and plants to the green space, and even adding an area with exercise equipment so that adults can enjoy this space too.

The renovation will also include fencing and lighting.

“Hopefully it will serve as sort of the intermediary to remedy some of the violence that we see in these communities,” said Irvin Cohen, executive director of LISC Jacksonville, which is helping EWU find funding for this renovation project.

“We are gonna create a vibrant space right here on this corner that says to the community that, ‘Hey, this is a safe place to be,’” said Mia Hobdy, executive director of New Town Success Zone. “We want you to bring your families out here. We want you to enjoy nature and green space, and just have fun.”

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While Turner’s family strives for success in the face of adversity, Roy wants the community to remember that pulling the trigger does more than just hurt the victim.

“You’re just making your life worse and the other person’s life worse,” he said. “Making their family feel terrible.”

The entire renovation is estimated to cost $600,000 and is partially funded through grants and private donors. Hobdy explained it will cost approximately $275,000 to replace all the playground equipment, and so far the university has raised $120,000.

To find out more about the project and donate, you can visit LISC Jacksonville’s website link HERE.

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