KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Healing Pathway Victim Service Agency is an advocacy group working to provide a safe haven for children who have lost family members to homicides.
Executive director and founder of the advocacy group, Monica Roberts, says the organization has been swamped this year due to the violence in Kansas City, Missouri.
"We're on the track for having the deadliest year ever in our history, and that is not anything that we're proud of," Roberts said. "We are overworked. We are drained. A lot of us do this as volunteers in our community. So we're also working jobs outside of what we do. But it's just, it's so painful to watch."
She said this year alone, the agency has worked with hundreds of families who lost their loved ones to recent violence.
"Healing Pathway is just one of many agencies in the metro area that are working around-the-clock to address the violence that's happening and it's literally nonstop. It's a nightmare that we just can't seem to wake up from," Roberts said.
The group's focus is on children who are dealing with trauma due to a loss of a loved one from violence. They're called co-victims.
"We're dealing with children that are suffering from recurring nightmares, depression, anxiety, stress, rage,loneliness, isolation," Roberts said. "As adults, we have a hard time processing all of this. And so for our little ones, they are really not able to understand."
The agency works with case managers, mentors and victim advocates to help these child co-victims.
Roberts says combating violence is not an overnight fix.
"It's going to take that old school, kind of community approach of, this is everyone's issue, everyone's problem," Roberts said. "And it's going to take all of us to stand up together. And we've got a lot of healing to do right now, there are a lot of families that are destroyed."
She said the conversation needs to start at home.
"Kansas City is a very small community. We know when things are happening. I think it's important that we share those things with the appropriate individuals, that we address the seriousness of these crimes," Roberts said. "Crucial conversations are important, learning to have mutual respect for one another. I think that is important: to go back to those very basic values of loving your neighbors."
She also recommends people step in to help advocacy groups as they work to reduce crime in the metro.
"A lot of our organizations, we depend on volunteerism. That is how we survived. We survived through volunteers," she said.
Right now, Healing Pathway is collecting weighted blankets for its children.
"Weighted blankets are essential for helping our children sleep throughout the night," Roberts said. "A lot of our children don't get rest, they are fearful, and they have anxiety that is so high right now because of everything that's happening."
Find more information about Healing Pathway Victim Service Agency on its website.
For jurisdictions that utilize the Greater Kansas City Crime Stoppers Tips Hotline, anonymous tips can be made by calling 816-474-TIPS (8477), submitting the tip online or through the free mobile app at P3Tips.com.
Annual homicide details and data for the Kansas City area are available through the 41 Action News Homicide Tracker, which was launched in 2015.