Auntie Advocate members in the community.

Bringing New Meaning to ‘Auntie Advocate’

Gun violence doesn’t just affect its victims. There is a ripple effect that echoes through families and entire communities. 

It’s because of this ripple that LaTonya Carraway-Snow started Auntie Advocate, to be a support system and a resource for those who are impacted by gun violence in Virginia.

Prior to being a CEO of a nonprofit, Carraway-Snow owned several cleaning companies. After building up a clientele, she found herself always leaving homes with more than she came with.

“We always get stuff because we’re housekeepers,” Carraway-Snow said. “I’d put it on my Facebook page, ‘Hey, there’s this couch.’ We’d get so much stuff, we’d have to give away things.”

She had an influx of supplies and a platform, and then tragedy struck, which propelled her to bring her worlds together. 

The inspiration behind Auntie Advocate

Xzavier Hill, her nephew, was shot and killed by a Virginia State police officer. Before his death, Hill was an advocate in his own right. He’d beg his family to let him participate in protests and serve his community.

His death inspired Carraway-Snow to take action.

“When he got killed, I had to start working,” she said. “We were protesting, we were grieving, and I was asking myself how I can incorporate cleaning with my community [work]. I didn’t want to clean full time. My community knew they could call me if they needed something, so my mentor told me I should turn my work into a nonprofit.”

She was hesitant at first, but after following her mentor’s advice and starting an educational program in social services, she had the motivation she needed to start outreach programs in the Norfolk area. 

Since the inception of Auntie Advocate, she’s handed out Purpose Popsicles (popsicles with positives affirmations and messages) and personal hygiene kits, coordinated a Summer Snacks event and much more. She is currently participating in a Dell laptop scholarship opportunity, which will be awarded to four high school seniors based on their creativity, insight and potential impact of their video submission.

What’s next?

Carraway-Snow has since moved to Northern Virginia but already has developed similar programs and has passed the coordination baton to Norfolk friends and family to keep those services going where they can.

Wherever she goes, Carraway-Snow is looking to build community, cohesiveness and understanding.

“We serve people affected by gun violence – that’s everyone,” she said. “Think about the dynamics in a school classroom. You’ve got children with different backgrounds, and as a parent you don’t know them, but the kids are in the same room together. Maybe a child has seen gun violence, but you’d never know your child was one step away from that. 

“We have a disconnect with each other because we’re not raised in the same way, we don’t have the same opportunities. God put me here because I see selfishness, I want to affect all of Virginia.”

This year, Carraway-Snow is looking to replicate some of her successful community programs like Basketballs and Bikes, which provides sports equipment for youth in her community so they stay active and engaged while building positive relationships with their peers. She’s also encouraging more members of her community to vote in local and national elections.

If you’d like to donate to Auntie Advocate, visit its Facebook page for more details.

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