After the Parkland, Florida, school shooting just over a year ago, a group of grassroots activists in Jackson County formed an organization called WE CARE to protect local schools from such an incident.
The group determined early on that slowing a perpetrator’s progress through a school building until security forces arrive would be crucial to saving lives. Due to their rural locations, many schools are located as far as 15 minutes away from law enforcement facilities.
Last week, Constellium donated $10,000 toward the cause. The funds will be used to purchase door barriers for each of the county’s 600 classrooms. In the event of an active shooter or other incident, teachers would be able to install the devices quickly to prevent entry into their classrooms.
“The purpose of the devices is to stop an armed intruder from gaining access to the classroom or the building. It also allows the teacher to get the device in place very quickly. That’s our goal – to protect the kids and stop unauthorized access to a room,” Ravenswood Police Chief Lance Morrison said.
Constellium CEO Buddy Stemple said it’s hard to think of a more worthy cause.
“This was done as part of our Constellium Cares program. We like to give back to the community in any way we can,” he said. “People bring us a lot of ideas, more than we could ever fund. Todd (Ritchie) brought us this one and, given recent events we’ve had
in the country, it was one we thought we could help out.”
The Parkland shooting took the lives of 14 students and three educators, said Dee Scritchfield, Ravenswood city councilwoman and member of the WE CARE board of directors.
“We don’t need the anniversary to remind us of this tragedy that broke the hearts of Americans across the country. We are not so naive to think it can’t happen here. WE CARE has developed active partnerships between schools and communities and became a 501c3 nonprofit organization,” she said.
WE CARE includes school administrators, law enforcement members, legislators, clergy, and people from all walks of life, said Pastor Chris Skeens of the Jackson County Ministerial Association.
Todd Ritchie is a member of WE CARE who works at Constellium. He mentioned the group’s efforts to the Constellium Cares team.
“They were very receptive. At the beginning of the year they said we were ready and it came together very quickly,” he said.
Each unit with installation costs $100.
“School safety is everyones responsibility and Constellium understands that as evidenced by their generous donation,” Scritchfield said. “We understand that nothing is fool-proof, but we also understand that we can do a lot in preventive efforts to avoid a tragedy in our schools. “
As business partners within the community, Constellium is challenging others to join the effort to totally underwrite this initiative.
“All donations will help regardless of the amount you are able to contribute. Let’s not wait and ignore the risk and say we wish we would have. We can be a bellwether community and show others what can be done,” Scritchfield said.
Christy Sizemore is director of the Jackson County Community Foundation, where WE CARE’s donation account is housed. She said anyone who wishes to support the group can send their donation to: WE CARE at the Jackson County Community Foundation, 108 North Church St., Ripley, WV 25271.
Chris Skeens the churches involvment...Rev. Chris Skeens Jackson County Ministerial Assoc...Ravenswood Freewill baptist...sent emails and letters to churches .... firstly they’re making a coenant to pray for our shcools, admin, staff and students. free to make a donation. they can haelp in that way through jccf. we have so many wonderful retirees who are educators, all of our churches are equiped to volunteer...anyone who can vol...be a presence a friendly face within our shcools.
Todd Ritchie...a lot folks involved in the shootings had issue at home issues with parental guidance. cetainly we have enough people to provide support , no only thourgh young life, which xtian cusupport group, the reitrees could adop t a child give them guidance, support avoid them taking ti that far.