WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — It’s still an open wound for many who attended Saturday night’s Violence Impact annual candlelight vigil.
Keena Charles started Violence Impact three years ago after losing her son, Semaj Chambers, who was murdered on Dec. 2, 2017.
She said her goal is to provide a path to help those experiencing a similar loss.
“To bury your child, there’s nothing like that. Nothing can compare to it. There’s no pain that is greater than that,” Charles said.
Five years later, she is still overwhelmed with grief.
“I still have those moments where I can’t get out of bed. I still have those moments where I have panic attacks. I still have those moments where I can’t breathe,” Charles said.
She started the group three years ago to help others find peace.
“That’s not only for me; that’s for every survivor that comes here every Tuesday night, so we hold each other, we help each other, we love each other,” Charles said.
Group member Dra Aguilar lost her son, Raul Aguilar, to gun violence last year. She couldn’t believe it when she got the news.
“Disbelief, I was in shock for quite a bit. It wasn’t until a month or two later that I went into complete collapse,” Aguilar sad.
The group has given her a level of comfort. She comes to their meetings weekly.
“I was desperate. I would talk to anyone. I just needed something, so I did. She immediately invited me over. She was warm and welcoming,” Aguilar said.
They released balloons Saturday night as Keena Charles read off the names of those who had lost their lives to gun violence.
Violence Impact also helps loved ones maneuver through the legal process of seeking justice. The group welcomes survivors of gun violence and loved ones of those who have died.
They meet every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at their Wichita location, 2620 E. 21st St. N, Wichita.