‘We can do better’: Volunteers raise awareness of gun violence with Greenfield event

Volunteers with gun violence prevention groups hung up orange hearts in trees and on fences on the Greenfield Common in recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day last week.

Volunteers with gun violence prevention groups hung up orange hearts in trees and on fences on the Greenfield Common in recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day last week. FOR THE RECORDER/SAM FERLAND

Volunteers with gun violence prevention groups hung up orange hearts in trees and on fences on the Greenfield Common in recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day last week.

Volunteers with gun violence prevention groups hung up orange hearts in trees and on fences on the Greenfield Common in recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day last week. FOR THE RECORDER/SAM FERLAND

Volunteers with gun violence prevention groups hung up orange hearts in trees and on fences on the Greenfield Common in recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day last week.

Volunteers with gun violence prevention groups hung up orange hearts in trees and on fences on the Greenfield Common in recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day last week. FOR THE RECORDER/SAM FERLAND

By SAM FERLAND

For the Recorder

Published: 06-11-2024 10:03 AM

GREENFIELD — Volunteers with gun violence prevention groups heard praising beeps and hollers from passing drivers as they hung up orange hearts in trees and on fences on the Greenfield Common in recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day last week.

The event, a collaboration between Grassroots for Gun Violence Prevention and Wear Orange, has been organized locally for the past five years, according to volunteer Robin Neipp. People across the country wore the color orange on June 7 to honor Hadiya Pendleton and all victims of gun violence. Pendleton was shot and killed on Jan. 29, 2013 in Chicago at the age of 15.

“The idea was inspired by a group of Hadiya’s friends, who asked their classmates to commemorate her life by wearing orange,” Mayor Ginny Desorgher said, reading a declaration that the first Friday in June will be Gun Violence Awareness Day in Greenfield. “They chose this color because hunters wear orange to announce themselves to other hunters when out in the woods, and orange is a color that symbolizes the value of human life.”

Neipp has been volunteering with different groups to help prevent gun violence for more than seven years.

“I have nine grandchildren, I’ve gotta keep going,” Neipp said about her work preventing gun violence. “Sometimes I get caught up in it too much, but really it’s not about me, it’s about the future. I believe that we can do better and that we can make this country safer.”

Neipp emphasized the importance of education and legislation on proper gun storage and background checks, and gave great praise to all organizations that help raise awareness of gun violence.

Volunteer and former teacher Kathy O’Rourke explained her fear of gun violence while teaching.

“We were doing drills where I had to sequester children in a corner of a room. I had to pull all the shades, I had to lock the door,” O’Rourke recounted. “It was terrifying.”

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Desorgher ended her declaration by saying, “I encourage all citizens to support their local communities’ efforts to prevent the tragic effects of gun violence and to honor and value human lives.”