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MAKING A MARK: Foundation provides alternatives to gun violence in Newport News

They're giving communities alternatives to gun violence by trading weapons for solutions.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Healing, evolving, and building are the three missions that make up the name of the HEB Foundation.

 But there's also a special tribute behind the organization's name.

"I lost my brother, Raghib Brooks, October the 11th, 2018. And he died at 27. He was gunned down in the Newport News area," said Chanda Coston, the foundation's COO and VP. 

"His friends call[ed] him 'Heb'. I took the love I have for him and I said, 'We're [going to] save that same community,"" Coston said.

She and her mother, Mary Jackson, the nonprofit's president, are replacing violence with progress in Newport News.

"There's something that is very traumatic about losing a loved one to gun violence, the way that they are snatched from you," Coston said.

The HEB Foundation services, supports, and educates communities in Newport News that have been affected by gun violence.

"As you take one family and heal that family, that family pass[es] it on and heal[s] somebody else, it becomes a community," Jackson said.

"Looking at all those different issues that the community face[s], and they may feel like there's no way out, and so we give them basically a tool to put in their toolbox," Coston explained. 

"Community redevelopment through our basketball camp as well as our Camp Healing, said Coston. "We also do life skills."

Jackson said they are working to save people and families trying to cope with loss.

"A lot of times, they be thinking about, 'I don't [want to] live anymore',"  Jackson said.

 "A lot of them don't know how to move to the next step, so we're here to encourage them to move forward."

The foundation is helping make communities stronger and safer-- something Coston said her brother would be proud of.

"They don't get to take your legacy like this. They don't get to define your ending or what you're remembered by," she said. 

"In establishing the foundation, it was my way of snatching that back from them, that his name will be great. And it won't be in that way. It'll be in this way."

The HEB Foundation is hosting a 10-month mentorship program called 'A Better Way'. It's for Newport News residents ages 18 to 24 that have been affected by gun violence. 

You can sign up now through October 21st. The program is scheduled to start in November. Visit the foundation's event page on its website to learn more.

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