A community’s grace surrounded Charity Guinn on Saturday.
Guinn’s daughter, Angel Hooper, was killed in October by a drive-by shooter — a bewildering act of senseless violence that shocked the city. Just a few weeks ago, Angel would have turned 7.
Saturday, Guinn smiled and chatted with others at a small holiday get-together for the surviving victims of murder in Kansas City.
“I really do appreciate all the love and support that I’m getting,” she said as 1-year-old son Michael made a joyful racket at her feet. “Especially from people I don’t even know.”
The reception was put together by the Kansas City chapter of Mothers in Charge, a support group made up of family members victimized by homicide in recent years.
In front of a sparkling Christmas tree, group members offered punch, cookies and gifts to murder victims’ children and families, as well as hugs from people who know the ache a holiday can bring.
“We remember how it was for us,” said Rosilyn Temple, who lost a son to murder in 2011. “If I can help another family during Christmastime that has been victimized by homicide in Kansas City, that is what I do. It makes my day.”
Tanesha Tyson’s son Ka’Vyea was shot and paralyzed this year in a service-station shooting that took his father’s life. Ka’Vyea cradled a gift as he sat in a wheelchair at Saturday’s party.
“He’s strong,” Tyson said, smiling at her son. “It’s real hard right now.”
KC Mothers in Charge is part of a national movement aimed at stopping homicides and violence. Its members offer counseling and outreach for families touched by murder, not just during the holidays but throughout the year.
Homicides in Kansas City are down significantly from previous years. As of Friday, 72 homicides had been reported in the city, compared with 99 killings through a similar period in 2013.
Those touched by violence said Saturday that their pain lingers, eased by the warmth of community support at the most difficult time.
“Our lives have changed forever,” Temple said. “It gives strength to go on. It gives us the strength as mothers to say, ‘We can do this.’”