NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – To address gun violence, we must also address poverty and hunger.
Cameron Bertrand is a survivor of gun violence who now works as an activist. Bertrand created the Gun Violence Prevention and Intervention Outreach (VIP) to provide trauma resources and services.
This past weekend, Buy Back the Block VIP partnered with the Hampton Roads Urban Agriculture for a farmers market. Both organizations were awarded grants from the city of Newport News to help address crime.
“We’ve been creating different ways to not only get our community engaged but to also prioritize healing from the inside and out,” Bertrand said. “[It] was really important for us to provide that sense of hope in a different way then we’ve been seeing.”
Hampton Roads Urban Agriculture is a non-profit organization working to promote healthy food options in the heart of downtown Newport News. There is a farmers’ market every weekend, but now once a month Bertrand plans to make it a community hub with free mental health resources and haircuts.
“It should be something that we experience every single day in our communities,” Bertrand said, “so being able to have something right on 21st Street in downtown Newport News where our kids were able to come out of their homes and walk down the street and be able to get some fresh fruit, but also leave there looking better then they might have felt when they came there.”
For Bertrand, it’s all about instilling a sense of community.
“When we talk about ending gun violence, we have to realize there are so many barriers that create environments for violence and trauma,” he said. “We talk about poverty, hunger, homelessness and access to resources. Then the generational trauma that comes from the lack of resources.”
On June 17, Bertrand plans to host a Juneteenth farmers market with local artists, businesses and live music.
He hosts monthly town hall discussions on gun violence. Next Wednesday, on May 31, all are welcome to join the conversation at Booker T. Washington Middle School.