BALTIMORE — Within the last couple of weeks Baltimore has seen families swallowed by trauma.
A pistol whipped priest. A saint murdered in her own church. A little girl gunned down at a recreational center and a mother and her two children killed in a house fire.
WMAR2 News spoke 1 on 1 with a man who has been there with those families through it all offering what he calls a “ministry of presence” for those needing it most.
"When somebody get killed in Baltimore they just want answers," said Dr. Andre Humphrey who has spent decades comforting families, getting them answers on their worst days.
"I’ve seen parents getting off the bus and they’re loved ones laying under the sheet and they’re asking the police ‘is that my son or daughter under there? And they're looking at me. You know wanting me to tell them," he shared.
Dr. Humphrey says the job as Commanding Chief of Baltimore’s Trauma Response Team has taken him from tragedy to tragedy. Helping families get through pain he’s grown to know on a personal level.
"Tragedy trauma I lived through it. As I told you having a son be murdered 23 years old, White House commissioner for the President one of the biggest honors a man can have," he shared.
He’s transformed his own pain into purpose.
Even with his knowledge and experience over the years, the job presents new demands. At times, seeming unbearable.
"They had a sleep over and they were preparing to do something for thanksgiving not knowing that a tragedy awaited them," Humphrey recalled.
That fire would create tragedy for a mother and her two kids.
Janice Williams, her 12-year-old son, Antwan, and 7-year-old daughter, Aubrey, died in the violent row home fire overnight.
Humphrey on scenes of tragedy’s like this is the person bearing news sometimes just too hard to handle.
"When the grandfather on the other side was showing up, he wanted me to explain to him how many people losses their lives, I couldn’t do that nah. I couldn’t do it to sit down and explain to them that they won’t be walking to school with you anymore," said Humphrey.
The trauma response team isn’t just there for trauma’s initial impact but through the seasons that follow.
The team often offers services to families ranging from counseling, financial assistance, and sometimes making funeral arrangements.
"That means a lot to people because people never forget that. I call it the ministry of presence," he said.
Armed with empathy, they provide a presence needed while Baltimore families weather storms of unpredictable peril.
"The next minute, the next hour, it could be you. So I don’t take anything for granted and that’s what keeps me going, the passion I have for helping other people.
According to Dr. Humphrey, the children that survived the house fire are going to need clothes and things for Christmas.
They familiar lost their home and they’re accepting food and monetary donations. Along with whatever people find in their heart to give.
For those interested in helping out, reach out to 1833-60-trauma