Treyonda Towns, grandmother, activist, community leader

A family tragedy impassioned Treyonda Towns to work to stem community violence. When her daughter was killed, she became a Restorative Justice Practitioner and advocate as a way to address violence and injustice.

Treyonda is a mother of six girls and one boy, (the eldest daughter deceased), grandmother of eight and from the Lawndale community in Chicago, Illinois. Her deceased daughter left behind five grandchildren, who Treyonda has been raising since her passing in 2008 year.  Currently, she is raising three children and five grandchildren, ranging in ages from 10 to 17.

The transition of losing her daughter has certainly been challenging for Treyonda and her family. Due to her family’s circumstance, the role of being a grandparent is difficult. She says it is “sweet all around, but it can be bitter when you can’t fulfill the role of their actual mother.” Her family spends time together serving the community as a way to build hope. They also enjoy family time together sneaking away for a movie and cooking.

Apart from raising her grandchildren, Treyonda works so that other children will not be put in the same situation as her grandchildren. Treyonda tirelessly advocates to ensure women and families receive the mental health care they deserve. Each December, Treyonda supports and hosts an event in conjunction with Compassionate Friends – a national candlelight vigil in memory of victims of domestic violence. She started an organization called JVT Foundation, named in honor of her daughter, to support families who are dealing with the trauma of losing a family member to violence. She volunteers with Rape Victims Advocates and takes emergency room calls to advocate for survivors. In addition, Treyonda works with the Women’s Treatment Center helping post-partum and pregnant women through issues of substance abuse. She is a May 2017 MA graduate in Counseling Psychology. Treyonda says, “It’s about being able to do the work in the midst of tragedy and turning tragedy into triumph. It is an example of hope and helps others to find hope. It is two-fold as a catalyst of my own healing.”

Treyonda is a parent leader with Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI). She works on the Elementary Justice Campaign and as passionate restorative justice practitioner where she continues to advocate for alternatives to punitive discipline policies and practices.

Despite her family’s tragedy, Treyonda perseveres in her commitment and dedication as a mother, grandmother, activist and community leader.