Fort Wayne United's newest initiative will provide stipends to help families of homicide victims bury their loved ones.
The United Response program was announced Thursday during a news conference in the office of Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, in partnership with the Victim Assistance Unit of the Fort Wayne Police Department.
A news release provided later described United Response as is a critical expansion of Fort Wayne United's Meals 4 Healing program, which provides meals for families who have a relative who has been killed due to a homicide.
The news conference was to announce fundraising has started, Natalie Eggeman, a spokeswoman for the mayor's office, said through email.
“The program hasn't been officially launched yet. Some details like the maximum amount of money granted are still being worked out,” she said.
The money collected will go directly to the funeral home.
Several churches have committed to the United Response program, the news release said. They include Come As You Are Community Church, Greater Progressive Baptist Church, Headwaters Church, Blackhawk Christian Church and New Covenant Worship Center.
The churches are providing financial support, Eggeman said, and are in the fundraising process. They are also providing access to their grief support groups and counseling services, as well as the meals, which are part of the Meals 4 Healing program.
A Fort Wayne United clergy subcommittee developed the Meals 4 Healing program in 2018, in partnership with Parkview Health and Victim Assistance. That program has helped 142 families, the news release said.
When a homicide occurs, families of victims are connected with a case worker from Victim Assistance to determine their interest in receiving meals while grieving. If the family chooses to receive the service, hot meals are delivered to their homes by a Fort Wayne United church for seven days.
Churches also provide the family with church contact information, free services, support groups and victim assistance information for follow-up help, if needed.
Fort Wayne United is a mayoral initiative that places two national efforts, Cities United and My Brother's Keeper, under one umbrella. A primary emphasis has been youth advocacy and opportunities and safety, particularly for Black boys and men.
Anyone interested in making a donation to United Response:
• Text: TELC to 206-859-9405, which sends a response text for Trinity English Lutheran Church
Enter the amount you would like to donate and click NEXT 2. Enter your name and payment method 3. Under “Fund” select “Fort Wayne UNITED”
In the memo section, type “United Response”
• To make a donation to United Response via check:
Make check payable to “Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne” and put “United Response” in the memo section of the check. You may drop off your check in person or mail it to: 555 E. Wayne St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802