Help Now! is Kalamazoo

Mayor Bobby Hopewell | Photo by Robert Neumann

The violence that occurred in Kalamazoo County on Feb. 20, 2016, was shocking. One man, for unknown reasons, went on a shooting spree, killing six people and critically wounding two more within the span of just a few hours.

In the immediate aftermath, Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell said, “We have always stepped up when challenged, and we will stand together in this sad time. We cannot be fearful, but must instead unite and show the love and compassion that defines us as a community.”

So we did. Even as we grieved, we responded. As a community, we responded with rallying cries of We are Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Strong. We — individuals from all walks of life, churches, nonprofits, businesses, government leaders, law enforcement agencies — responded with collective efforts to support the people affected. Within 24 hours, the Help Now! Fund — a collaboration of the Battle Creek Community Foundation, United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region, and Kalamazoo Community Foundation — was created. 

 In the days and weeks that followed, the fund provided direct support to those involved and their families, along with funding to nonprofits providing direct support services to those involved, and funds for agencies working on long-term solutions to community violence.

Local and national headlines echoed how we took care of our neighbors: Nonprofits move swiftly to help, Hundreds helping victims and We are stronger together. One news story highlighted the greater Kalamazoo community’s uncanny knack for resilience.

 A year later, Mayor Hopewell remains resolute on the power of this collaborative community response. “In the end, this incident did not define us,” he says. “We are stronger.”

Read more: Our Approach to Community Philanthropy is Kalamazoo

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