Rev. Patricia Saunders Photo By Ed Lasicell
Twenty-seven years ago, Rev. Patricia Saunders started her ministry by reaching out to families in her community. Although she has never officially pastored a church, her outreach consists of everything a pastor would do â€“ challenge, correct, encourage, and comfort.
Being a preacherâ€™s kid, she grew up seeing the trials, tribulations, and joy one could experience in ministry. Undaunted by what she saw, Rev. Saunders accepted her calling and begin ministry â€œoutsideâ€ the walls of the church in 1987.
â€œFor me ministry is not behind the walls but in the streets,â€ she said.
Saundersâ€™ love for children led her to volunteer at the Childrenâ€™s Receiving Home for 10 years.
â€œChildren are my heart,â€ she said. â€œI feel they are not getting proper parenting and are victimized. I want to do all I can to save our children.â€
Saunders now heads Survivors of Homicide, a non-profit organization based in Northeast that assists families who have been affected by homicide. She was selected to head the organization in December when the D.C. Homicide Coalition grant ended.
Now Survivors of Homicide, which consists of volunteers, is restructuring the organization and applying for a new 501(c)3.
â€œWe are reorganizing, changing the name, and really attempting to get established because homicide families need help,â€ Saunders said. â€œWhen the grant ended, there were a number of us who cared enough about homicide families that we wanted to continue the work.
Last modified on Thursday, 21 May 2009 11:00
â€œOne of the things we wanted to do is to enlighten homicide families and the community that there is someone that is concerned about them and wants to work to help them,â€ she added. â€œThere are a lot of gaps in services, especially when it comes to crime scene clean-up. This is a major concern for homicide families.â€
Saunders assists in running the organization by 24-year-old Carl Reed, who serves as coordinator, and 60-year-old Julia Dunkins, who has suffered through two homicides in her family.
â€œWe offer counseling, legislative suggestions, and burial assistance,â€ Dunkins said. â€œWe also have cemetery plots that we can offer to the neediest.â€
Dunkins has worked with homicide families for 16 years.
One of the ways Survivors of Homicide has sought to get the communityâ€™s attention was a recent ride for peace by motorcyclists through the streets of the District. The ride began at RFK Stadium in Northeast and ended at Freedom Plaza in Northwest, where two white doves were released, with the assistance of Platinum Ridersâ€™ President Reginald Norrisâ€™ two-year-old son Nike.
â€œWe are grateful to the Platinum Riders, the Speed Divas, and Councilman Harry Thomas Jr., who participated in the ride, although it rained,â€ Saunders said. â€œWhen we got to Freedom Plaza, we talked about having peace with self, family, and children. We became peacemakers, which we feel is the beginning to stopping homicides in the District.â€
Saunders said the motorcycle ride for peace will become an annual event. Reed said the organization will expand their outreach to communities East of the river and said discussion is underway about what events will take place and when.
For more information on the Survivors of Homicide, visit 311 Decatur Street in Northwest or call 202-882-9190.
Ed Laiscell can be reached at