OPHS to kick off neighborhood violence reduction series with free food, gun locks

At least eight community organizations will join the city’s Office of Public Health and Safety on Indianapolis’ northeast side Saturday to give out food and other necessities, the office said Tuesday. The event kicks off a series focused on residents in neighborhoods that the office—in partnership with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department—identify as more likely to experience violence.

Volunteers will canvass door-to-door in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood with food, pet food, cleaning supplies, gun locks and details on mental health resources and hotlines, according to a news release. They’ll also bring information on how to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship. It’s all part of the office’s efforts to address and prevent gun violence, domestic violence and other forms of violence.

“These type of events help remove the burden of reaching out for assistance,” said Shonna Majors, the office’s director of violence reduction, in written comments. “Sometimes people don’t know what assistance is available to them.”

Even before the pandemic, calls to central Indiana domestic violence service providers jumped more than 11% between 2018 and 2019, according to a December 2020 report from the Indianapolis-based Domestic Violence Network. The organization also is involved in Saturday’s event.

ML & Trip Mentoring Outreach Center, Indy Heartbeat and the United Northeast Community Development Corp. are among the other organizations participating. The groups and the office plan to be out on doorsteps weekly on Wednesdays at different apartment complexes and neighborhoods starting in May and at least through the end of that month, according to the office. Another neighborhood outreach series set for the summer will focus on young people.

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