PAIN INTO PURPOSE: Sandy Hook shooting moms visit Houston to help Santa Fe victims

Friday, March 29, 2019
Sandy Hook mothers helping Santa Fe survivors
"Really, this summit is our way of honoring our kids and pushing the mission that we started because of their loss," said Alissa Parker

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's been almost a year since the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, but in the months since, the community has displayed a large amount of support and on Friday, they will join mothers who lost their children in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

"I thought this would never happen here and so my heart just drops," said Alissa Parker.

Who can forget the heart-wrenching images out of Newtown, Connecticut back in Dec. 2012, where 20 children and six teachers were killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary when a gunman opened fire.

"It's something that any one of us just can't really wrap heads around. It makes no sense, and I think it was certainly the longest darkest night of my life," added Michele Gay.

Both Michele and Alissa lost their daughters, who were also friends. At the time of the shooting, Emilie was 6 years old.

"She was just sunshine in real life, she saw the world and rainbows and loved to draw," said Parker.

Josephine was just 7 years old.

"We just celebrated her 13th birthday this past December, and she was also just an incredible force of nature, kind of the center of our family life," added Gay.

Now, these Sandy Hook moms are on a mission, turning their pain into purpose. They created Safe and Sound Schools, a non-profit that focuses on school safety, supporting crisis prevention, response and recovery. They're bringing their message to Houston for the very first National Summit on School Safety in partnership with Crime Stoppers Region 4.

"Really, this summit is our way of honoring our kids and pushing the mission that we started because of their loss," explained Alissa.

"We've got mental health professionals, we got law-enforcement folks, fire folks, safety and security professionals, parents, students, teachers. It's really a diverse group of people that all share this goal of safe kids and save schools," added Michele.

The summit will feature leaders from all over the country to talk about school safety solutions. The summit will also focus on parents, teachers, students, and survivors from Santa Fe High School.

"It's a long road out and we will be there, quite a few survivors here that will share that message, and share what they have learned along the way," said Gay.

One of those survivors is Lisa Hamp, who survived the Virginia Tech shooting that left 32 people dead.

"He tried to enter my classroom, we didn't have a lock on the door, so we had to build a barricade and we did it very quickly so he shot through right above our heads, and push the right door and we push back on the door, so there's a lot of lessons there about locks, and infrastructure of schools," Lisa said.

They're coming together, learning from each other's tragedies, hoping to make schools safer and helping Santa Fe survivors heal.

"The community starts to make a turn in the recovery around one year mark, right after the one year anniversary, and as for a survivor who is directly impacted, you look around you and you see the rest of the community starting to return to what their new normal routines are going to be and you're still struggling," she added.

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