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Sharing Thoughts with our Community this Holiday Week: Joy and Pain

A message from Dean Ramona Denby-Brinson

Dear Social Work Community,

Daniel Davis Aston, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, Derrick Rump and Raymond Green Vance were loved, needed and valued. Their lives were taken, and other lives were shattered because of a hate-fueled shooter bent on targeting the LGBTQIA+ community in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Saturday night.

We were still trying to wrap our minds around the senseless murders of three University of Virginia students—Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry—on the night of November 13. Now there is more pain and grief.

We acknowledge the shock and trauma that these horrific incidents have caused for many in our UNC School of Social Work community. When any of us feel threatened, grieved and unsettled, it impacts us all.

Many will say that words mean nothing. I say that our silence says a lot.

Some will say there is nothing that can be done. We know that our efforts, big or small, can accomplish remarkable things.

Finally, some may feel that gun violence is too daunting to tackle and that the opposition is too powerful. I know that we too are powerful.

What Can We Do?

Nadine Bridges, MSW heads up One Colorado, an LGBTQIA+ advocacy organization in Denver, Colorado. Please consider reading her words in response to this tragedy. I experienced her message as heartfelt and energizing, signaling a call to action against gun violence.

The Washington Post published this article two days ago containing different ways to provide support and take action. You may find solace today in helping those affected in Colorado.

Joy and Pain

The lyrics of a popular song have been playing in my head for days. The song is about the joy and pain of life. I recognize that we are entering a season where we look forward to spending time with our loved ones and for many, our hearts are full of joy. Yet many in our community feel deeply about the recent losses and for some, this holiday will not be the same.

I do hope that you take time to be with loved ones and that you experience joy.

We are also grateful for your kindness and any thoughtful gesture that you can share with friends, colleagues and students who are experiencing this life moment as pain.

And this holiday season, let’s take a moment in gratitude for our social work colleagues in Colorado this week, who along with other helping professionals are providing mental health support to yet another community affected by gun violence.

Thank you for caring for one another and for taking care of our community.