Joy Shattered

I live in a college town.

The annual ritual of students returning to campus is pure joy. Seeing the wide-eyed freshmen, the confident graduate students, the anxious parents—it is just fun to observe.

As students settle in, you see couples out on what is very obviously a first date, frat boys in their customary blue sportscoats heading to the first event of the year, and young women all dressed up in what is basically the same dress in hundreds of different prints and patterns going through sorority rush.

Soon there will be the first home football game with alumni back in town with their kids dressed head to toe in school gear. Stories will be shared from decades past when bellies were a little flatter and hair was a little thicker and not yet gray.

It is all part of the rhythm and the joy of living in college town.

Last week, that joy was shattered with eight words posted on X:

“Emergency: Armed, dangerous person on or near campus.”

It happened again in our country.

A gunman put a campus and a community on lockdown. A life was tragically lost.

Thousands of college students, local elementary, middle, and high school students (who also had to go on lockdown), and countless community members were anxious, scared, and unsettled.


Adults of every living generation have failed our kids. We have allowed this violence to become common. We have allowed lockdowns to become a normal part of school.

There is nothing normal about this.

When the all-clear alert came last week, I was relieved and grateful that the situation had not escalated into an even greater tragedy, but I was also sad and really, really angry.

I need your help.

The nonprofit sector has always tackled our communities’ greatest challenges and found ways to make us better. What can we do? What can I specifically do?

I can’t accept that this is just the way it is. The normalcy of violence in our country is unacceptable. It must change, but how?

Many of you have turned to me for answers to your challenges over the years; today I turn to you. Please email me at with your ideas on how I can help turn back the tide of violence in our country. I know that the path will be complicated and challenging, but there is a way. Together, we can find a way.

I am counting on you. I am counting on us.


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