Von Daniels has experienced firsthand the pain a mother feels when she loses a child to a violent crime. Although people offered her support in her time of grief, she said no one understands that pain more than another parent in the same situation.
Daniels, the executive assistant to Sheriff Richard Roundtree, has worked with the sheriff’s office to create Angel Hearts Support Group to support families in that position.
Daniels’ 21-year-old son, Corey Joseph, was on his way to work March 7, 2007, when he decided to give two men a ride. One of those men, DeAndre Holmes, 19, pulled a gun and shot Joseph, resulting in his wrecking the car. Holmes was sentenced to life in prison, plus five years, for the crime.
In the aftermath Daniels realized how many other parents like her were in the same situation but had no formal support group.
Facing the loss is only the beginning. A family’s pain is worsened by the intrusions into the grief by police, the judicial system and the media. After the suspect’s apprehension, a series of preliminary hearings, postponements, trial and sentencing force the family to relive the grief over and over and can create a feeling that justice isn’t being served.
Unsolved homicides leave even more pain, confusion and no closure.
“A lot of things go on with a death that parents don’t want to discuss because they feel guilty,” Daniels said. “I think this (support group) will be a good way for them to not feel embarrassed or ashamed.”
The first Angel Hearts Support Group meeting will be from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, 400 Walton Way.
Daniels hopes to hold meetings at least once a month and eventually increase their frequency. The meetings are open to families in Richmond and surrounding counties.
A pastor will be available at each meeting, along with guest speakers. Topics that might be discussed include the grief process, the criminal justice system, children and gangs, coping mechanisms and other areas for support.
At the first meeting, Daniels will share her experience and look for feedback from the participants.