Kellie is a mother, homeowner and casino worker.
She’s also lost two young family members to gun violence.
One of them was her 13-year-old son, who was murdered in 2012.
Her nephew, 17, was killed this year.
She has another child, 9, that she worries about.
She’s starting a support group for mothers who are going through the same thing she is: They vent, talk about solutions, try to stop retaliations and the cycle of violence.
She’d like to know what local town councils, mayors and Jeffrey Chiesa, who was appointed this week to lead the state’s takeover of Atlantic City, could do to reduce the gun violence.
When her child was in trouble, she reached out to the prosecutor’s office for help, but her son was too young to enter a program they recommended. She says she made the prosecutors charge her son so he could get into a program to help young people.
“They told me: ‘He’s too young. He needs to be fourteen.’ Well, my son didn’t make it to 14.”
Programs for kids 14-16 are too late, she said.
“By the time they get there, they’re done. In their minds, they have nothing to live for. The drug addiction, the pill addiction is an epidemic going on out here among these youth.”
There’s a 15-year program to turn around Atlantic City, she heard. But in the meantime, there’s a generation of “lost youth.”
“These kids are collateral damage.”