Richmond's trauma healing coordinator connects those impacted by gun violence to resources

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Richmond City Health District is taking a different approach in responding to violence. It employs a trauma healing coordinator to connect families who have been impacted by violence to resources that they need.

Donte McCutchen was tapped for the health district’s position back in April. “We needed a response. We need this,” he said.

McCutchen is the pastor of Love Cathedral Community Church in Richmond, and he has a background in public health.

“The workers are stressed. The people are stressed,” he told 8News.

This week, McCutchen wrote in a Facebook post saying he prayed with the family of a 15-year-old girl who was shot and killed in the city on Monday. The shooting happened on North 1st Street in Gilpin Court. Family members told 8News that the teen was walking to the store and got caught in the crossfire.

McCutchen wrote in the same Facebook post that he preached at the funeral of a 17-year-old who was shot and killed right in front of his home church. “I want us all whole. I want us all healed so we can be strong,” he said.

McCutchen has lost family members to gun violence himself. In April 2021, his cousins Sharnez and Neziah Hill died in a shooting at the Belt Atlantic Apartments.

“We want to bring the resources to them and that’s to those impacted on both sides. Those who are doing the shooting and killing, and the families who are impacted by the shooting and killing, and even those persons that respond and work,” he said.

As of this past Sunday, Sept. 11, 41 people have been killed in Richmond this year. That’s down from 54 homicides at the same point last year, according to data from the Richmond Police Department.

McCutchen said he works closely with grassroots organizations and connects people who are on the ground doing the work. So far, he’s seen a difference in the way the city responds to gun violence.

“The beauty of community work is we get to do this together,” he said. “We’re building new communities and networks that are so amazing. Now, those that do the work feel supported.”

McCutchen added that one of his goals is to have community hubs all over the district so that people don’t have to look outside of the area for help.

The Health District said city council members have dedicated $500,000 to the Trauma Healing Network. About $134,000 was allocated to the Richmond and Henrico Health Districts, while the rest went to the Richmond Behavioral Health Foundation and other community organizations.