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Camden woman working to end trauma, violence in young people

Camden woman made it her life's mission to help her community after losing husband to gun violence
Camden woman made it her life's mission to help her community after losing husband to gun violence 01:48

CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) -- A Camden woman who lost her husband to gun violence is making it her life's work to heal the community, one family at a time.

Inside the Camden offices of Saving Grace Ministries, soccer balls aren't just for kicking. They're for decorating, with markers and stickers and positive messages. 

The decorated soccer balls will be shipped to Haiti. The project is just one of the activities at Saving Grace Ministries, which helps children and families coping with trauma. 

"We do a lot of fun things with the children," Nyzia Easterling, the founder of Saving Grace Ministries, said. "We build a relationship, like a family relationship."

For Easterling, this is what she needed when she lost her husband, James Brown, to gun violence in 2003. 

"He died thinking that everybody was good people like him, but that wasn't the case," Easterling said. 

Easterling was 25 and a mother. She had to travel outside of Camden to get the counseling and support she needed.

"So I said 'You know what? I don't want another mother to feel like this. I don't want another child to feel like my child felt. So what can I do to prevent this from happening again?'" Easterling said.  

Easterling, a school teacher, started the foundation in 2011 with 30 families. 

Now, it has served 1,100-and counting in both Camden and Philadelphia, through partnerships with schools, prosecutors, and child advocates -- all hoping to end the cycle of trauma and violence in young people. 

"So what we try to do is teach them how to accomplish their goals and be something great outside of what happened to you," Easterling said. "You are not what happened to you." 

Easterling said the grief of losing her husband doesn't leave.

"But it's not a sadness," she said. "At this point it's an inspiration." 

Click here more stories in our Brotherly Love series. 

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