Brenda J. Muhammad | 2022 National Crime Victims' Service Awards
Brenda Muhammad is a national leader in violence prevention and the creator of a volunteer movement. She has dedicated her entire career to victim services, and has made an indelible mark on the city of Atlanta and on the hearts of crime victims throughout the country.
Ms. Muhammad is the Executive Director of Atlanta Victim Assistance, Inc., (AVA), a nonprofit that advocates for the fundamental rights of victims of crime. Since taking over as Executive Director in 1997, she has steadily grown AVA into a uniquely inclusive organization that serves the complex needs of victims of all crime types.
Brenda J. Muhammad received the National Crime Victim Service Award. Visit the OVC Gallery for more information about her work to support victims of crime.
BRENDA MUHAMMAD: This is Norbren. On October 19, 1989, my 16-year-old son, Norbren, was going to play basketball. The young man who lived across the street shot him in the back of the head
I just made a promise to him as he was dying, for the rest of my life, I would dedicate it to trying to save the life of another human being.
That was the beginning of MOMS. Mothers of Murdered Sons. Our goal was to move people from adversity to advocacy. And the most important thing that we were hoping would be to get violence under the health umbrella. I've had my share of banging on desks down there before Congress, speaking engagements across the world, and that's what put me on that trajectory to this day of Atlanta Victim Assistance.
Atlanta Victim Assistance has been around for 30-some years now. We serve all victims of crimes. LEAP is our Law Enforcement Advocacy Program. The city is made up of six zones, and we have advocates assigned to each one of those zones. We started LEAP because so many victims fall through the crack, because their perpetrator has not been identified. But the victim still needs services.
CHRISTOPHER PORTIS: Oftentimes, victims of crimes are intimidated by the court process. AVA is a critical link to conveying what's going on with the victim's perspective.
BRENDA MUHAMMAD: We do programs in the schools, mediation, grief counseling. Sipping Tea is a homicide support group. They come to refresh their souls.
WOMAN: I needed to be with people that went through what I went through.
BRENDA MUHAMMAD: I've learned in these 30 years we've got to turn our pain into participation. So, as long as I have breath in my body, I will keep the commitment that I made to my son. I will never stop working on behalf of victims of crime. Never.
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