Three men handed turkeys from the back of a truck parked outside of a church to dozens upon dozens of women. On the upper level of the church, hundreds of women dined on a delicious dinner that included chicken, mashed potatoes and cranberries.
Downstairs a steady stream of women were given a bag of groceries that included stuffing and potatoes. They dined, they laughed, they hugged, they cried. This was the scene on Saturday, November 18, 2017, inside and outside of the New Waverly United Methodist Church located at 644 E. 33rd Street in Baltimore City.
That day, more than 300 women impacted by violence were given all the trimmings for a Thanksgiving meal and served dinner. The event was organized by Millie Brown, founder of A Mother’s Cry, an organization that supports mothers who have lost their children to violence.
“Three hundred women, all who have been impacted by the violence on our streets attended this event,” said Brown. “There were mothers from Roberta’s House, and the State’s Attorney’s Office, along with mothers who lost sons, grandmothers who lost grandsons, and children who lost fathers.”
She added, “Others who were in attendance came to support them. We also fed and gave food to those who needed some help for the holiday.”
According to Brown, donations came from a variety of sources, including Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.
“The Governor’s Office donated 250 turkeys and Saval Foods donated another 125 turkeys,” said Brown. “A total of 375 turkeys were donated along with 375 bags of groceries. Giant Food donated the non-perishable items. Johns Hopkins’ catering department donated the hot food that was served. Tyrone Sherrod donated t-shirts to the mothers.”
Brown also praised the efforts of Kevin A. Slayton, Sr., Pastor of the New Waverly United Methodist Church and his congregation.
“The church members served and also donated non-perishable items,” she said. “Brother Gary Cole was also a tremendous help, as was Ben Malmin of City Harbor Church.”
Malmin, is Lead Pastor of the church, which is located in Hampden.
“My favorite activity every year is giving groceries away to families who have suffered murder, because it matters to God,” said Pastor Malmin. “God said from the beginning that the blood cries out from the streets to Him. He cares when His loved ones die. How we lament matters. There can be redemption, healing and joy. There is so much pain in Baltimore City and to see these faces smiling is bigger than a cancer cure.”
Donyelle Brown lost her son Louis Cody Young on July 1, 2017. Cody, 22, was the stepson of prominent Baltimore attorney Warren Brown.
“It was a senseless act of violence at a gas station,” said Brown as her eyes welled up with tears. “Ms. Millie took me under her wings. I started the Cody Young Foundation and she is going to help me through the process. She is dynamic for the mothers. I am amazed at the amount of work she does, and truly blessed. She does a lot, and the city really needs this.”
Steve McAdams, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives also attended the event.
“It is very painful because your children are your heart and soul,” said McAdams. “We wanted them to know we are here for them. Ms. Millie is helping people through the grieving process. There is a lot of collateral damage when someone is lost to a violent act. It affects family, friends, and neighbors. Ms. Millie reaches out, brings people in, and helps them. I don’t think you can put a value on helping to stabilize somebody.”
Brown says that her son, artist Will Brown plans to give each mother a portrait of their child, and that she is planning a Christmas event for the mothers, For more information about A Mother’s Cry, call 443-303-6289 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.