PEORIA (WEEK) -- Gun violence has claimed more than two dozen lives in the River City in 2021, approaching a record. Local organizations are doing what they can to help the families affected, and come up with a solution.
"Sometimes you have no words for them. All you want to do is hug them and comfort them. But you still have to know that you have to take care of the family as best as you can in that time," said Sharee Tucker-Lockett of T.W. Parks Colonial Chapel - a funeral home on Peoria's south side.
Tucker-Lockett said with the surge of deadly violence, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not unusual for some families to fear the worst.
"Each year, it rises and rises. And it's sad to say that that's the expectation," Tucker-Lockett said.
The chapel offers grieving families more than just a memorial - its resources range from providing professional therapy, to pre-planning for a tragedy, and even connecting families to other groups for a burial site.
"Being there at least 60 days after that death, to walk with that family and help them process what has happened. And be available for any of their emotional, spiritual and social needs," Reverend Linda Butler said.
Other local organizations are stepping up in similar ways. Over the years, Peoria's South Side Mission has helped multiple families that have lost loved ones to violence.
Reverend Craig Williams says right now, the focus is on the kids.
"I am fearful for our young people. For those, more so, that want to do the right thing and stay out of trouble … They just want to be in a safe place," Williams said.
Leaders with both the chapel and the mission agree they are just a piece of the puzzle. They say, ultimately, it comes down to every member of the community to do their part in reducing the violence.