On Friday February 5, 2016 our friend and colleague was an innocent victim of the rising gun violence in Chicago. Aaren was a beautiful 25 year-old woman who was intelligent, compassionate, caring, and hardworking with a deep love for her friends and family. She had a great sense of humor, love for adventure and a take charge personality. By simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time the world lost an amazing person and all of her potential.
We want to make sure that something positive can come from this senseless tragedy. While trying to solve the gun violence epidemic in Chicago seems like an impossible task, we need to start somewhere. We believe we can teach people to see the world from the perspective of others. We hope we can teach people that violence isn't the answer and provide them with resources to pursue a different path. We think we can teach people how to come together and become a stronger, more unified community.
It is in this spirit that we announce the Aaren O'Connor Memorial Fund. Initially, donations collected will help her family offset funeral and memorial service expenses. Over time, donations will fund a scholarship program in Aaren’s memory that will serve to bring hope and healing to the youth of Chicago. One initial idea is to fund support for at-risk Chicago youth who want to advance their education by participating in a study abroad program (Aaren loved to travel and met her boyfriend Carlos during her time abroad). Our long-term goal is to develop an after school program at a community center in Aaren’s name where Chicago’s youth can come together to receive the caring and resources they need to choose a non-violent path and open their hearts to others. Other suggestions to provide healing to our community in Aaren’s memory are welcome and encouraged. May she rest in peace.
Due to the overwhelming support we have received over the past day, we have decided to double our goal to $50,000. Thanks to all who have contributed.