A Boston City Council Member Works Overtime to Help With Healing

Ayanna Pressley has been working nonstop to find ways of soothing the pain of an emotionally battered city.

Posted: 04/16/2013 03:38 PM EDT
Ayanna Pressley

From virtually the moment she heard the news of the explosions, Ayanna Pressley’s life has been nothing short of a whirlwind.

Pressley, a member of the Boston City Council, has been meeting with local agencies, constituents and a wide array of Bostonians in an effort to bring assistance to people who have been affected by the bombings at the city’s marathon Monday afternoon.

“There are some pressing needs in this city,” Pressley said, in an interview with BET.com. “For one thing, people need information. And they need to know the resources that are available to them. And I see my role as helping to connect people with those resources.”

She spent time with residents in her neighborhood of Dorchester, many of them emotionally overcome by the death of 8-year-old Martin Richard, the third grader who was standing near the finish line to cheer on family friends who were running in the race.

“They are neighbors of mine and fixtures in the community,” she added. “Many of us in the neighborhood were together, everyone embracing each other and holding each other up.”

She added that many Bostonians feel a sense of depression and trauma following the attack that left three people dead and an estimated 150 or more people injured, many of them seriously.

Pressley, the first woman of color to be elected to the council, said that acts of terrorism affect all citizens and make no distinction in terms of race or ethnicity.

“This is an incident that has left our city traumatized and deeply hurt,” she said. “My initial reaction was that of an elected official. I wanted to know the needs of the people and I wanted to play whatever supportive roles I could possibly play.”

Specifically, she has been working to connect residents who need emotional counseling with professional counselors.

“We have had this event that has upset the city and we need to make sure that support is in place for those people who are feeling traumatized and those who are experiencing it but who may not be aware of it,” Pressley said.

“We also have to be certain to make sure that parents have the support to help their children emotionally and to make those children feel safe and secure,” she said. "We have to do everything we can."

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(Photo: Courtesy Ayanna Pressley)

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