With more than 300 people shot in Jacksonville this year and more than 115 homicides, Nikki Carswell has been going nonstop with her organization, the Silent Women Speaking Foundation.
She wishes she wasn’t so busy.
“I am very outraged,” Carswell said. “That is why I am pushing. That is why I will continue to do the work because these moms and these families need it.”
The mission of Carswell’s organization, which was started in April 2021, is to empower, strengthen and love families who have lost loved ones to violence, especially gun violence, in Jacksonville and nearby areas.
Recently, Carswell has been assisting five families, including families of those killed at the Grand Park Dollar General in August, and those of two children who were shot and killed within the last few weeks: 3-year-old Kae’lynn Matthews and 6-year-old Mi’King Sims.
“All I can do at this point is pray and just listen,” said Carswell, who is also a mentor and life coach. “I can be there for them. It is so sad. I could never imagine losing a child.”
Kae’lynn’s funeral is at 11 a.m. Saturday at Westside Church of Christ. Visitation is from 5-7 p.m. Friday at Funerals by T.S. Warden.
Silent Women Speaking Foundation’s work includes dropping off meals — sometimes daily — providing transportation, therapy sessions, and in some cases helping families pay their bills after funeral services. But it also goes beyond that.
Carswell’s next project is writing a book called “Painful Tears of Silent Women.” Seven mothers share their agonizing stories of loss. Carswell hopes the book will help these families cope with their sorrow.
“I know that they would never heal from this,” she said. “But have resilience in adversity to push through for them to be able to give down to their other children.”
Within the last two years, the Silent Women Speaking Foundation has helped more than 150 families. It’s work Carswell wishes she never had to do but hopes is meeting a need.
Carswell is aiming to publish the book by the end of this year.
She said the next phase for the organization is finding a location where it can meet with families on a more consistent basis to provide resources as they heal.
If you or someone you know needs support or would like to donate to the foundation, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.