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Mother of slain teen helps other mothers of victims and combat violence

CHICAGO -- When violence breaks out in Chicago, police and paramedics aren`t the only ones pressed into action.

Gwen Baxter is a hospital responder for Cure Violence, the violence prevention program once called CeaseFire.  She`s stationed at Mount Sinai Hospital on the city’s west side, one of the busiest trauma centers in the city.

“Anytime somebody is shot, stabbed or brutally traumatized in the city of Chicago, the hospital call the hotline and go out to talk to the patient or patient`s family,” she said.

It's her job to talk with the victims or distraught family members to figure out what happened.

“I try to change their mindset, make sure that there`s isn`t going to be any retaliations.”

But she finds most are just innocent victims of violence, much like her son Larry Harper. He was killed in 2003 during a robbery, nine days before Christmas.  He left behind four children, the oldest was just 5-years-old.

Instead of bottling it up inside, Gwen uses that pain to help others.

When she’s not at the hospital, she’s working with the support group Sisterhood that she helped co-found.  It’s made up of mothers that have lost children to gun violence.  It started with six women in 2015 and has grown to over 70.

“Our really main goal is to help a mother live with the fact that they have to live life without their child,” Baxter said.

It is a fact that is painfully demonstrated in the number of shootings in Chicago so far this year, with nearly 150 killed and more than 700 wounded by gunfire.

Baxter says she baffled by the number of high-powered weapons that are making their way into the hands of young killers.

She tries to hold on to hope that the work she does with the Sisterhood and Cure Violence is making a difference.

“Just imagine what it would be like if they wasn’t there, that’s how I look at it.”

She says the reason she continues to do this work is because she wanted to be a voice for her son and she doesn't want any other mother to have to experience her pain.

But she says it's going to take a collective effort to stop the violence.