OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Music, dancing, food and raffle giveaways were all found on N. 34th Avenue Thursday evening. The laughs and good times were all in hopes of preventing possible future grief.
YouTurn Omaha held a family fun day alongside other local gun violence prevention groups, closing out Gun Violence Prevention month.
"We believe very strongly that there’s a way to resolve conflict without resulting in gun violence," Teresa Negron, Executive Director of YouTurn Omaha said. "We want people in the community to know you can have a good time without violence."
Those with first-hand experience agree.
Buffy Bush lost her sister to gun violence back in 2011. On Thursday, she shared her story in hopes of bringing awareness to the impacts of gun violence.
"My sister was not any type of person who lives a street life. She didn’t have any gang affiliation, she just loved the wrong guy and the life he led on the streets was brought back to her home. It wasn’t anything that was expected, she was somewhere she should’ve been safe and she was not," Bush said.
Bush took her pain and used it to help others, starting Families Of The Stolen, a group that helps family members through their grief.
"I’m coming full fold and I won’t let anyone be forgotten I'm not going to let anyone's murder go unnoticed," Bush said.
Organizers say it was important for Thursday's event to not only be educational but fun. They say it allows kids to understand there are other things to get involved in than gangs and to feel the community cares for them.
"It lets the kids know that have been witnessing nothing but violence, the community still cares about their happiness, the community still cares about their well-being and laughter alone. The education that's out here is needed for our community, the parents," Bush said.
It's a lesson parents who attended hope to instill in their children. It's why Chelsea Ventry McGee brought her son out to the event.
"It’s really important for him to know and keep him away from any violence that may happen just him growing up being who he is in the community we have, so I want to do anything that’s possible to keep him away from dying," Ventry McGee said. "I worry about it every day as I see stuff on the news or social media I think that could be my son and I’ve been thinking about it since I knew he was in my stomach and I knew he was a boy and sometimes cry about it because I don’t know, I’m not a 100 percent sure I can save him."
She's grateful for events like these and organizations like YouTurn, because she says the information they give is not something many get on their own.
But it's something those with first-hand experience want to get out to the community. They say it takes a village, and everyone should be educated and aware of the impacts of gun violence, saying that's the only way it'll end.
"It has no discrimination, gun violence does not discriminate against anyone, and it can happen to any one of us. It can land in your backyard. I was one of the ones who looked the other way until it landed in my backyard and knocked on the door," Bush said.
She adds that only when the community bridges the gaps of mistrust, will it become safer for the kids.
"The community has to get rid of their fear. They’re allowing the violence to cripple them with fear so they’re not using their voices, they’re not using the strengths they have," Bush said.