How One Woman’s Tragic Loss Birthed an Organization; Providing Trauma Relief to Young Adults in Flagler County

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Carmen Gray is a Flagler County and Palm Coast resident, an author, and the founder of LLC Rise Above the Violence. Carmen is a mother who suffered the ultimate loss, the death of her son to gun violence right here in Palm Coast. Carmen’s son, Curtis Gray, was tragically murdered in 2019. Instead of falling apart in her grief, she rose up and started an organization in her son’s honor. Long Live Curtis, Rise Above the Violence  is an organization that helps provide young adults and families with trauma relief.

Curtis is fondly remembered for his leadership role and influence to help other youth ‘be great’. His strive for greatness was recognized by four government agencies who awarded him the prestigious 2019 Prevention Champ Award for his activism in mental health. Carmen recognized that the long-term stigma of murder would leave behind debilitating psychological and emotional scars if this type of trauma went untreated. Immediately, she began to advocate for mental health supports through meeting with Mayor Melissa Holland, the Flagler County School Board, various city officials and civic groups, SMA (Steward-Marchment Act) and other mental health clinics in Palm Coast to ensure no child would be left without the emotional supports needed in the wake of this monumental crisis. Ms. Gray’s son Curtis Israel Gray was the first teen-age homicide in Palm Coast in over a decade.

The Mission of LLC Rise Above the Violence, according to Carmen is, “To impact the social and emotional wellness of youth in the aftermath of violence with post-impact training through seminars, workshops, camps and community resources”.

Carmen explained, “Our goals in 2024 is to reignite Curtis’ message ‘Be Great’ for newcomers to Palm Coast who are not familiar with the slogan that began a profound movement which has had global recognition. The LLC Foundation stands against violence of any kind, self-inflicted, bullying, crimes of intention and murder; as a result of our stand we are launching summer camps to support positive behavioral workshops for youth predisposed to violence.” Additionally Carmen added, “Our long-term goals is to successfully produce an ever- green learning platform that will be transferred in 4 languages to maximize our global platform.”

When it comes to community participation, Carmen told us, “We need volunteers for administration (social media, correspondence, event management), workshops, camps and counseling. Please register online at Volunteer | LLC FOUNDATION (longlivecurt.com)” Carmen also explained that the community can get involved in their events; “LLC would love to engage our supporters in some fun fundraisers this year. You can start immediately with our Pampered Chef fundraiser. Just sign up at: https://www.pamperedchef.com/party/riseabovetheviolence.

Ultimately Carmen hopes to curb violence among the youth, in an effort to help prevent tragic losses, like what she experienced when she lost her son in 2019. “LLC Rise Above the Violence, Inc., will provide effective proven programs to local schools; juvenile detention facilities and community programs that are looking for results driven learning modules to curb violence by equipping youth with essential emotional resilience skills to manage their behaviors for positive long-term outcomes. Our Flagship culinary program “Who Cracked My Egg?®” is the program that we feel confident will accomplish that hope.”

 

By Krys DeWind

Krys DeWind has been a Flagler County resident since 2016. She is active in her community and is always looking for ways to better it. She has a community first attitude which is one of the central founding ideals of the Flagler County Buzz.

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