With gun control continuing to be a hot issue in our country, the outreach efforts of Joanne Miles, HUP controller and recipient of a Penn Medicine CAREs grant, seem even more vital.
Miles volunteers her time with Heeding God’s Call, an organization that unites faith communities – including churches, mosques, synagogues and Quaker meetings -- to address the destructive impact of gun violence in the Philadelphia communities. “It’s not a political group,” Miles said. “We hold prayer vigils and protest with posters, at gun stores and where a murder has occurred. Sometimes we’ll have a mother or family member of a victim speak.... We want to bring attention to the problem.”
Their subtle approach has worked. According to Miles, the group earned national acclaim for organizing a campaign that resulted in shutting down a Philadelphia gun shop that was among the nation’s leading sources of sales to illegal gun traffickers. “Gun retailers need to be responsible for who they’re selling to,” she said. “We want to decrease ‘straw’ sales, when a person without a criminal record –- often a girlfriend -–purchases guns for someone else. The majority of murders are from straw purchases.”
Miles will use the grant to help expand the West Philadelphia chapter, getting the word out about the organization and its vigils to churches throughout the area.
“I joined Heeding God’s Call because it’s personally important to me to do more than just donate money to an organization,” she said. “And as I learned more about the group’s goals, I knew I wanted to be a part of it.”