Families talk of losing their children to violence

The families of those left behind as a result violence shared stories of pain and loss at a virtual charity fundraising concert last night.

Dee-AH Iris, treasurer for Gina Spence Productions which hosted the concert, told how her son was murdered seven years ago. She said she was able to find strength by getting involved with the charity and its Champions Programme which supports families affected by homicide.

“When my son was murdered, my life changed forever,” Ms Iris said.

“It took me a long time to be whole again. Being part of the Champions Programme and worthwhile causes… has helped to heal my soul and help me to live again.”

The virtual fundraising concert and presentation Save Our Island was live-streamed across various channels.

Hosting the event, Gina Spence, founder and chief executive of Gina Spence Productions, said the charity was born out of the fatal shooting of her son-in-law James Laws in 2010.

The concert aims to raise $75,000 for the charity’s Champions Programme which provides clinical and social support as well as essential items to children affected by gun and gang violence.

Ms Spence said that 72 children had been left behind to gun and gang violence in Bermuda adding, “that’s 72 reasons to give”.

A lady named Nisa said the charity had supported her family through tough times.

“They helped us out going back to school and for Christmas…” Holding back the tears, Nisa continued: “And they took a lot of stress off of me as a single parent. I encourage you to give to help parents like me.”

Two young “champions”, children who had suffered loss to violence, appeared on camera to say how much the Champions Programme had helped them.

Commissioner of Police Stephen Corbishley encouraged members of the community to donate to the cause saying “children are our most vulnerable victims”.

He added: “Since I’ve been in Bermuda I have had a lot of opportunities to work with Gina Spence Productions and I know a lot about the Champions Programme which is a fantastic programme.

“When we have tragedies that involve loss of life, from a police perspective we arrest people, take them to court … but what is left behind are broken families and children who are left without a parent.

“If love, care and guidance is not provided they face a very difficult future. Give a donation no matter how small.”

Wayne Caines, President of Belco, the event’s lead sponsor, said that the company had a philosophy of “social sustainability” in helping young men to find meaningful careers.

He highlighted that Belco has numerous programmes including internships and scholarships.

Bermudian duo Last Call provided musical entertainment throughout the hour-long show.

Anyone wishing to donate to the cause can do so by visiting: www.ginaspenceproductions.com, by calling: 296-0016 or e-mailing: info@ginaspenceproductions.com

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