Guns Down Friday works in Washington, D.C., and Prince George's County to support families who have lost children to homicide, suicide, and mental Illness. We provide comfort and referrals to mental health services, athletics, and dance programs. We assist families financially for necessities like shoes and sports equipment as well as memorials and headstones. By organizing vigils and protests, we help families and community members process their grief and honor the memories of those departed.
Jawanna Hardy is the founder of Guns Down Friday. A longtime educator and community activist in the Capitol Heights of Prince George’s County, Hardy draws inspiration from her Christian faith and the examples set by her activist mother and uncle. She served in the U.S. Air Force for six years, including a one-year deployment in mortuary services in Qatar and participation in the launch of FEMA’s search and recovery unit. Upon coming home, she observed that the streets of Washington, D.C. were worse than a warzone, and neighborhoods were experiencing trauma without any therapy or support. In 2018, she founded Guns Down Friday in collaboration with her daughter, Dnayjah Joseph, to address the needs of families who have lost loved ones and to mobilize communities to support one another and take action. With her mobile trauma unit, she organizes vigils and neighborhood events and provides material support to children and families. From its start in one DC neighborhood in Ward 8, Guns Down Friday now operates in five DC neighborhoods, as well as Prince George’s County, MD. In 2020, the Greater Washington Community Foundation recognized Hardy’s work by naming her one of ten Black Voices for Black Justice DMV Fellows. She has also been honored by the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation and WPGC’s Real Good People Campaign. Guns Down Friday has been featured by ABC News, Reuters, and WUSA-9 News.
D'nayjah Joseph is the Junior Founder of Guns Down Friday. From a very young age D'nayjah always knew she wanted to pursue a career in law. When she moved to DC from Maryland, she realized how different the city was from what she thought it would be. She never knew how much of an issue gun violence was for children her age. That is why D'nayjah joined alongside her mother, Jawanna Hardy, in creating Guns Down Friday. D'nayjah feels by focusing on communities’ well-being and mental health we will be able to end gun violence within the youth. In the future she wants to be able to have her own law firm. She wants to be able to provide free legal and mental health services to minority youth that have been put in the system by partnering with local psychologists and therapists. "Having people that show that they actually care for these children and want to fight for them to not just get thrown in the system at such a young age would impact them a lot.'' says D'nayjah.
Amy Walter is an education professional with 20 years of experience combining classroom teaching, policy work, and nonprofit strategic planning and investment, in the U.S. and overseas. The loss of her friend Jerry Black spurred her to take action against gun violence in the DMV. She lives in Washington, DC.
Mark Swartz writes for and about nonprofit organizations, with a particular focus on early education, the arts, and health. The 2021 murder of his friend Jerry Black opened his eyes to the crisis of gun violence. A cofounder of the Lever Fund, he lives in Takoma Park MD. See more at www.swartzmark.com.
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