‘Hope and Healing’ Sessions Wrap Up in Trenton

Mercer County continues to displays its resilience.

Over a week removed from the Art All Night shooting, the final of four ‘Hope and Healing’ forums concluded at the New Jersey State Museum Auditorium.

The sessions provided grief stricken residents with informational pamphlets, an hour long Power Point presentation, and takeaway methods on how to cope with the art festival tragedy.

Over the course of the four sessions, nearly 100 Mercer County residents were in attendance.

Mary Grace Billek, The Human Service Director for Mercer County, believes residents interactions at the events is a step in the right direction.

“The real way in which people are going to recover is through community,” Billek stated.

Over the course of the four sessions, Billek explained that all different types of community members showed up. “We’ve had families, hospital officials, law enforcement, and of course the general public,” Billek said.

One of the attendees was Dr. Akin Bankole, the Pastor of Abiding Love International Fellowship Church in Trenton.

“Our church is very close to where the shooing occurred,” Bankole said. “This program was helpful to us in understanding the impact shootings have on people.”

Dr. Akin Bankole, Pastor of Abiding Love International Fellowship Church in Trenton

Bankole agreed with Billek that to overcome the Art All Night tragedy, togetherness is a must.

“This event made me realize that we are all in this together.”

“We need to increase community events like this one,” Bankole said. Increasing programs would be good for the Mercer County community.”

Overall, Billek hoped those who attended the “Hope and Healing” forums had similar takeaways to Bankole’s.

“The only way we can recover is if we remain together,” Billek said. “Talk to your friends, go to church, use your pets, do whatever it takes with your community to get through this.”

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