By Connie Leinbach
An idea in a meeting with Hyde County Social Services Department led Trillium Health Resources to fund a gun safety program.
Trillium, which offers substance abuse, intellectual/developmental disabilities support and mental health services in a 28-county area, then purchased 1,000 gun locks and delivered 50 to Hyde County, the second smallest state DSS office and where the idea germinated.
A while back county social workers had a meeting with Sean Kenny, Head of Social Services Engagement at Trillium, concerning training for mental health first aid, said county DSS Director Laurie Potter.
“During these conversions with Mr. Kenny, (my staff) mentioned that the donations of gun locks would be a great resource to have when working with families that have children in their homes,” Potter said.
Kenny responded that Trillium had one or two gun locks they could give to Hyde.
“And we’re like, we could use one for every case we go out on, and they ordered them for the whole Trillium catchment area,” Potter said.
Potter said that when the department receives a child protection service request, they go out to investigate any building a child has access to. They are required by law to ask about storage of firearms to determine if they are secure.
However, anyone who has a child in their home and wants a lock may request one from Potter.
“I’m so proud of my social workers that come up with such a brilliant idea to keep the children in our county safe from guns,” she said. “I also thank Trillium for making this idea become a reality for all of the DSS agencies in their catchment area.”
Trillium representatives made the delivery to the DSS office in Engelhard on Feb. 6.
According to North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), 116 North Carolina children died of a firearm related injury in 2021.
Firearms are the leading cause of injury for children in North Carolina. Trillium is working to lower this statistic through this initiative.