By Journal Staff Writer
“Of all my duties, this is the responsibility that troubles me the most,” Robin Reese, executive director of Lucas County Children Services, LCCS, told attendees at a memorial honoring area children who died from guns. The service was held on Friday, April 28 at 705 Adams St.
The memorial service featured words from Paula Hicks-Hudson, Mayor of Toledo, a keynote address by Randy Oostra, president and CEO of Promedica, and brief words from other area dignitaries. Afterwards, there would be a lighting of candles by caseworkers of LCCS, that represented each of the children being remembered, and the displaying of Children’s Memorial Flag.
Ms. Reese spoke of how the agency’s workload had increase since the rise of heroin and opioid addiction. She also pointed out that child abuse is avoidable, and encouraged all present to get more involved in helping prevent it.
She gave the example of seven, of the 10 children being memorialized that day, died from guns; two of them, died from unsecured guns.
To avoid further incidents, Ms. Reese urged the community to practice positive parenting, develop non-violent resolutions, and avoid corporal punishment. She also wants more people to become foster parents.
Currently, there are 800 kids in Lucas County who are in foster care, and there are only 250 homes for those children, Ms. Reese said.
“This memorial can’t end today. Our efforts to end violence and solve the rise of children in foster care have to continue throughout the year,” she said.
Mayor Hicks-Hudson was brief with her words. She said, “I will make sure we’re not in this place, regarding the deaths of children, next year.”
Mr. Oostra’s talk focused on five things that define well-being; a good career, strong social relationships, financial stability, good physical well-being, and community involvement.
He pointed out that communities thrive best when the people experience well-being. “It’s the community’s job to protect the children,” he said.
The children who were memorialized were Ayla Coleman-Nalls, 10 months old, Journi Johnson, age two, TyRyne Hoskins, age three, Aaliyah Smith, age four, Dominique Alexander, age 14, Tommie Thomas, age 15, La-Percy Allen, age 17, Devon Dodds, age 17, Collin Doyle, age 17, Desmont Kendall, age 17, and Levi Ashley, seven months old.