The TraRon Center was founded in 2017 by Ryane B. Nickens, a native Washingtonian who was raised in the Ward 8 section of the city. Her life was impacted by gun violence on several occasions. First, in 1990 her uncle was murdered walking home from a relative’s house, the gunman believed her uncle was someone else. Then in 1993, her family was rocked again when an argument between her sister, Tracy, and a neighbor escalated into gun fire. The neighbor’s son killed Tracy, who was nine months pregnant, and wounded her mother, other sister, and brother. In 1996 Ryane’s brother, Ronnie, was murdered and found by a little boy on his way to school. And so, The TraRon Center was birthed out of Ryane’s desire to help families that have endured the pain of gun violence find healing, and to empower them to actively seek ways to change the culture of violence in their communities.
Ryane began laying the groundwork for The TraRon Center while she was a student at the Howard University School of Divinity and an intern with the Washington Interfaith Network. While organizing a Gun Violence campaign, Ryane gathered 15 mothers of murder victims for a conversation around community safety. That initial meeting of mothers turned into quarterly meetings for families. During these sessions, it became apparent that deep emotional wounds were still open, and that the survivors needed a safe space to deal with their personal traumas before they could effectively address violence in their own communities.
To that end, The TraRon Center offers a comprehensive program of individual and group counseling, therapeutic arts, and programming designed to raise community consciousness about the impact of gun violence. We currently offer two adult programs that meet bi-weekly for 90-minutes each:
• Journaling to Inner Peace where individual reflection, meditation, and journaling help gun violence survivors express their thoughts, feelings, and suppressed reactions to traumatic violence; and,
• Circles of Exhaling which are group sessions (supervised by licensed clinical therapists) where survivors discuss topics that directly and indirectly address their experiences of gun violence.
The survivors in our adult groups shared that their children, extended families, and communities also needed support, so in 2018, The TraRon Center launched an Arts & Healing program for school-aged children via after-school programs and a summer camp. We are also developing a series of training sessions on conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, peer pressure, and leadership for the community-at-large.