Memorial to the Lost

Memorial to the Lost
at Chester Eastside Ministries

Thursday, September 22, 2016

In today's Swarthmore Daily Gazette -- the Memorial to the Lost

Installation Memorializes 153 lives lost to Gun Violence

By Kyle McKenny

Late Sunday afternoon I hung a shirt bearing the name Moson Hunt. Hunt was two years old when he was shot and killed last year. His shirt is just one of 153 in the Memorial to the Lost displayed on the field next to the Swarthmore train station and Magill Walk. This installation stands as a solemn remembrance for all of the victims of gun violence in Delaware County in the past five years.
This memorial was started by Heeding God’s Call, a local faith-based group dedicated to mobilizing opposition to today’s prevalent gun violence. The Memorial to the Lost has been featured in other community spaces in Delaware County. Heeding God’s Call brought this memorial to Swarthmore’s campus with the help of Dr. Joyce Tompkins, Swarthmore’s Director of Religious and Spiritual Life, and the new student group Swarthmore Students for Gun Sense Policy.
Over fifteen volunteers helped erect the memorial this past Sunday. 153 pieces of rebar were hammered into the ground. 153 stands were mounted. 153 shirts were inscribed with the names of victims. These t-shirts recall the lives of these 153 victims.
“[The memorial] distracts us from our intellectualizing with its graphic display. Reading the names, the dates, the ages of these victims of gun violence reminds me that each is a person, a life ended, a grieving family, a devastated community. I find it speaks more pointedly than any article or set of statistics,” Dr. Tompkins said.
Indeed, the physical act of establishing this memorial made me confront the epidemic of gun violence in a tangible way. The majority of these deaths occurred just a few miles away in Chester, but here at Swarthmore I rarely have to consider gun violence as more than an abstract problem.
“Gun homicides are very concentrated in a few poor, mostly black and brown neighborhoods, far from where we live. Most of us who live in safe suburbs have no idea,” Fran Stier, Co-Chair of the Delaware County of Heeding God’s Call, said.
to read more, click here

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Memorial to the Lost on Swarthmore College's Campus

Many, many thanks to the stalwart souls who turned out to put up the Memorial to the Lost on the Swarthmore campus, after a month's drought, when the ground was like concrete.  But many hands made light work, and the Memorial was up and dedicated within 1.25 hrs.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Getting away with murder in Chester (Yesterday's Inquirer)

by Caitlin McCabe & Grace Toohey

When the shots rang out on Chester's west end on a cool, rainy night in May, Eunice Durnell paid the noise no mind.
Twenty swift blasts, in barely a minute. Gunfire is so frequent in Chester, Durnell had trained herself not to care.
So she went to bed.
By the time she woke, another family member was dead.
This time, it was her 14-year-old godson, Zenas Powell, struck by stray bullets outside a corner store where he had stopped to buy candy as he biked to a relative's home.
Powell was not the target, police say. He wasn't a troublemaker, gang member, or prone to violence.
But the shooter sprayed the corner anyway before speeding off. Police canvassed for hours but made no arrests. Not that night - or any night since.
Powell became the fourth member of Durnell's extended family slain in Chester in two years: Her 51-year-old sister, stabbed in the chest. A 31-year-old nephew gunned down. A cousin, 17, shot execution-style, two bullets to the head.
None have been solved.
to read more, click here.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Memorial to the Lost at Prospect United Methodist Church

Although the temperature hit 91 today, there was a good breeze and a great volunteer turnout from Prospect United Methodist Church, and the Memorial to the Lost was up in about 1 1/4 hours.  Here are some pictures

Friday, August 26, 2016

Wildwood -- beach trip for families bereaved by gun violence

Two families were already waiting when I got to the Chester Eastside, Inc parking lot around 7 AM Thursday.  Soon the parking lot was filled with families toting towels, lunches, and swimsuits.  Marshelle Johnson, who had worked for weeks contacting the families, was checking off arrivals on her clipboard.

Moms were wrapping frozen juice containers and water bottles in plastic baggies (so condensation wouldn't disintegrate the brown bags holding lunches).  Teens were lugging the tote bags of lunches to the under-bus storage.  Little kids were running around the parking lot.  I was nervously handing out flyers and explaining where the bus would drop families off and pick them up.

When we got to Wildwood, some families peeled off to explore the boardwalk; others headed for the beach.  We made a little encampment of rented umbrellas and chairs.

Little kids waded into the water, squealing and shrieking when waves hit them.  The big boys dashed into the water, and were soon jumping into the waves.  Then they were digging deep into the sand and burying each other.  Then they headed back into the water.

Sunshine, waves, and sand, and a fresh, onshore breeze.  It was a beautiful day.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

In last Sunday's Delco Times, our own Rev. Warren

by Patty Mengers,

Eleven o’clock Monday morning and the energy is pumping in the basement of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in the 300 block of East Ninth Street, site of Chester Eastside Inc.
Along the far wall, bushel baskets of fresh produce and bags of bread create a cornucopia effect as men and women of all colors, creeds and ages line-up for food to bring home to their families.
To the immediate left, neatly folded garments are displayed on a table for those in need of clothing. Meanwhile, children attending summer camp, weave through the crowd and make their way to the parking lot where they read aloud while the young adults who are their counselors, record their story-telling on mobile phones.
“They graciously allowed us to come here after we couldn’t maintain our building,” explained the Rev. Bernice Warren, referring to the pastor and congregation of St. Paul’s who have been hosting Chester Eastside Inc. for about four years.
The group’s original home in the Third Presbyterian Church of Chester about a block away had begun to crumble and Warren, who has been pastor and director of Chester Eastside since 1995, had to find a new space for the organization and it’s approximately 10 social service programs she has cultivated over the last two decades with the help of a small staff and volunteers.
“How ya’ doin’? Hey girl!” says Warren this particular July Monday as she greets the Chester residents who avail themselves of the more than 100,000 meals a year provided by the non-profit organization.
It is one of the parts of her job that she will miss come December, when she plans to retire.
“I’ve loved being here and doing what I do. I feel at home. It’s a real blessing to come back to Chester and have God use me this way. I love every minute. It brings me much joy,” said the 64-year-old Chester native.
to read more, click here