Hospice Savannah’s bereavement initiative for family members of crime victims

CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Last year in Savannah, 50 people were victims of homicide.

In almost every case, the target wasn't the only victim. So too were the loved ones left behind.

Seeing a crime scene on the news is the closest many of us ever come to being affected by violent crime. Others have been hit much harder. Barbara O'Neil's son was shot to death in Savannah.

"Gun violence has really devastated families, broken families, caused people to get depressed and oppressed," said O'Neal.

Thanks to a $100,000 grant from the New York Life Foundation, Hospice Savannah hopes to help some of those left behind. They'll use the money to meet the needs of some 200 low-income youth in Chatham County who have been impacted by gun violence.

"The primary reaction is this intense sense of security and fear," said Holland Morgan, a bereavement coordinator.

Morgan says counselors will go to where those children live and provide different kinds of support, including art and music therapy to help them better cope with their grief and stress.

"We know that children don't typically do as well sitting down and talking about their grief. They do much better when there are activities to allow them to give expressions to help them with their feelings," said Morgan.

"Well, I think it's great because in the past nobody has taken into consideration to think about the kids that get killed and the kids that are suffering from that.  And I think it will be a good idea what they are doing and I'm all for that," said Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher.

In addition, Hospice Savannah hopes to identify 100 adults who can be trained to provide a network of ongoing support.

For more information on the program, please click here.

Copyright 2017 WTOC. All rights reserved.