Danville woman planning event to fight gun violence April 27 at Palmer Arena

Danville woman planning event to fight gun violence April 27 at Palmer Arena

DANVILLE — It's a topic that most people don't want to acknowledge, let alone talk about, said Monica Beasley.

But, she said, community members must talk about gun violence, "and how we, as a community, can come together to stop it."

That's why Beasley is organizing an event called "On a Mission to Change the Dynamics of Our Fallen Youth," set for 5 to 9:30 p.m. April 27 at the David S. Palmer Arena.

It is free and open to the public.

The event will feature 13 speakers, including Champaign resident Maurice Hayes, who served 17 years in prison for murder and has been working to help young people make good decisions since his release; Mary Catherine Roberson, who's with the Danville chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; and Pastor Daniel Offett, executive director of the Danville Rescue Mission.

It will also feature live musical performances by soloists Danyell Finkley, Kisha Maze and Ariana Kelly.

Beasley said there will be information on a wide range of community resources. There will be a "goody" bag for every participant and free giveaways, including T-shirts and gift cards.

Beasley said she's been organizing events to help community members overcome obstacles in their lives since 2013. This one is her eighth.

"There are lot of broken-spirited people in the community," she said. "They don't know how to deal with things in their lives ... and things like poverty, a lack of education and sometimes violence becomes their normalcy.

"I want to show them there's a life outside of that because I used to be in their shoes," said Beasley, who overcame child abuse, dropping out of school, alcohol abuse and abusive relationships to earn an associate, bachelor's and master's degrees while raising seven children.

Beasley, an Education Talent Search specialist with the East Central Illinois Community Action Agency, is currently working on a doctorate in business administration. (The events are not part of her job.)

"These speakers have inspirational stories," she said. "We want to show people they have so much to live for, and there's so much more to life than taking one. And if we're all unified on this and start leaning more toward loving and helping each other, we can change the dynamics of our city."

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