Former NFL star hopes mobile grief center will help the children of Baton Rouge

POSTED: Monday, July 16, 2012 - 7:00pm

UPDATED: Monday, July 16, 2012 - 7:04pm

Former NFL star Warrick Dunn is no stranger to loss. At 18 he lost his own mother, a BRPD officer, when she was gunned down during an off duty assignment. Now he's trying to make sure other children who lose parents to violence are able to cope through their grieving process.

Soon the streets of Baton Rouge will have one more addition, a green bus, with the words ‘Betty's Hope’ on the side. It will be a mobile center for kids dealing with the loss of a parent, more than likely as a victim of violence, to get the support they need.

"I think a lot of kids are dealing with a lot of trauma. You still have Hurricane Katrina victims that are here in Baton Rouge that are still trying to manage their grief. We want to give them the tools and resources to do that."

So Warrick Dunn set out with a mission, to give the kids of Baton Rouge the support they need through their grief and healing process, something he needed as a kid but didn't get until later in life.

"Losing my mom at 18 years old and actually remembering going through that process, I think really helped cultivate my thinking to want to come back home to Baton Rouge where the need is greater," Dunn explained.

So why not just open a center where people can congregate? Dunn and his team believe by setting the center on the go they'll be able to reach more children.

"It's all inclusive. It's not meant to be a house or an office. It's meant to travel around and be in the community," Ebony Christophe, the program’s director, emphasized.

"Most people can't get to the location we wanted to get to them. And the best thing we can actually think about is getting a bus, putting counselors on it and going around the city and doing group counseling sessions with the kids," Dunn explained.

The mobile grief center hits the streets in September, Dunn and his team say the first place they'll head is where the need is greatest.
 

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