October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Read and share stories to honor survivors whose lives have been changed by domestic violence.

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Tonya Burch

In honor of Deontae Smith Taking Back Our Community in Honor of Deontae Smith Inc.

My son, Deontae Smith, was born December 11, 1989. He was shot and killed in Chicago on August 1, 2009. There was an unauthorized block party, and two girls got into a fight. During that time, someone started shooting, and my son was shot. He was not the intended target, but his daughter still has to grow up without her father. Deontae’s murder is still unsolved.

Deontae was attending college to make a brighter future for himself and his daughter. You couldn’t tell if Deontae was having a bad day because he was always smiling. If you saw his smile, it would bring you joy. His daughter carries the same bright smile as Deontae. My son was a gentleman. He was polite and always tried to help others. He would give you the shirt off his back. Deontae loved animals and people. Many people think they are immune to the violence in our communities because of their economic status, education or ethnicity, but all of our young people are at risk. In the short time that Deontae was here, he made a difference in the lives of many people. As a volunteer, he worked with the kids at Chicago Park District. To continue Deontae’s work, I started Taking Back Our Community in Honor of Deontae Smith, Inc. The organization helps youth with healthy lifestyles, mentoring and tutoring. I will continue to be a voice for my son.

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