Established in 2020, Resilient In Sustaining Empowerment (RISE) is dedicated to supporting children who have lost a parent to gun violence, their caregivers and families impacted by gun violence in Seattle and surrounding cities. RISE is one of the incredible nonprofit organizations in our 2022-2023 East King County capacity building cohort. Founder and Executive Director Lynniah Grayson and Operations Manager Peyton Adams graciously sat down with us to discuss the origins of their organization and their time in the cohort.
Initially, Grayson set out to help marginalized communities navigate the workforce. When tragedy struck close to home, her life and RISE’s mission changed forever. Her daughter’s father was murdered in a bar, leaving Grayson a single parent to a four year-old child. Grayson sought resources to support herself and her daughter’s needs but found shockingly few options. “There was nowhere for me to turn to,” Grayson said. “And with this tragedy happening in my own home, I knew that I was being called to do something bigger to support my community.”
Family members of those lost to gun violence are often left to fall through the cracks. The grief of losing a loved one is painful enough, but there are also financial needs such as funeral costs, school supplies, and housing expenses that can be insurmountable without assistance. RISE meets these challenges head-on through their Grief Support Cohort program – structured group sessions spanning eight weeks that provide ongoing support and guidance to those grieving the loss of a loved one to gun violence. Peyton explained, “Some of the workshops include candle making, healing circles, trauma-informed yoga, art therapy, and more. We try to get outside as much as possible.” One of the organization’s goals is to offer similar workshops for children that address the specific psychological, emotional, and physical needs of children at different ages and stages of grief.
Organizations like RISE are crucial in addressing the gun violence that plagues American cities. Black people are disproportionately impacted by this endemic which makes it not only a public health issue, but a social justice one. The impacts of these deaths are far-reaching and impossible to encompass solely through statistics. Black families and communities struggle emotionally and economically when caught in the cycle of gun violence. Grayson states:
It’s the organization’s responsibility to focus on those left behind. Black people make up 50% of fatalities in homicide victims. We see the data but I feel the data. The data shows individuals as numbers but they’re more than numbers. They’re families, providers, husbands, and wives. They’re connected to others. So when one is murdered, we’re all hurting and suffering.
RISE might be a young organization, but they have many exciting plans for new programs in the future. Throughout 2023, they are working with families to write and publish children’s books for those who have tragically lost a parent to gun violence. Each book will be written by a family and published in December.
RISE’s Back to School Drive is an excellent opportunity to support the organization by donating school supplies at Navos Mental Health Building. The drive is active until August 21st and supplies can be dropped off weekdays between 8am and 5pm. All supplies will be given to program participants at an annual back-to-school event this summer. The organization will also host their first annual banquet on December 2nd. Please contact email@example.com to find out about how to purchase tickets for the event.
Communities Rise is excited to see what this incredible organization accomplishes next and to continue supporting nonprofit leaders like Lynniah and Peyton in the future. If you’re interested in learning more about RISE’s work, check out their website.