We don’t often hear about what happens right after a shooting, who picks up the pieces, or cleans the scene of the crime. But these moments can forever change how we interact with the city around us.

After one of my brother’s friends was gunned down on my mother’s doorstep, her home was declared a crime scene, she couldn’t use her car or stay in the house that night, and she was left to clean up a man’s blood. Luckily, she had a family she could lean on for safety and shelter. But like many Philadelphians, she didn’t know that there are local agencies that provide victims services and support. If a comprehensive resource guide like our Up the Block project had been readily accessible 15 years ago, my mother probably wouldn’t have had to wipe her blood-stained steps with her hands.

As someone who was born and raised in Philadelphia, I remember the days when I lived carefree. I remember walking the streets with my friends and catching the el to the old Gallery to shop for clothes and Cinnabons for the ride home. I took the sub to Broad and Patterson to see concerts and cheer on the 76ers. 

Philadelphian Afea Tucker joins The Trace as engagement reporter in her hometown.

But I’m no stranger to growing safety concerns here. I am intimately familiar with the pain and trauma caused by gun violence, and how gun violence can cause stress, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I can relate to the frustration and hurt that insensitive news reporting can cause. As the new Philadelphia community engagement reporter at The Trace, a newsroom dedicated to covering gun violence nationwide, I hope to serve as a connector between Philadelphians who have been affected by gun violence and useful information about where to go for help. Do you know what’s “Up the Block”?

I worked on Up the Block — The Trace’s Philadelphia gun violence resource hub — as a freelancer during the project’s infancy. Through that work, I learned that there are many people in our community who dedicate their lives to helping folks like you and me, people who have been affected by gun violence. Did you know, for example, that the Pennsylvania victim compensation assistance program offers reimbursement for crime scene cleanup, and that some agencies offer free therapy and counseling? All of this information and more is listed on Up the Block. My goal is to expand our list of agencies, organizations, and gun violence prevention programs and activities, and bring the project into its next phase by better getting to know the people of my hometown.