MILWAUKEE -- Turning a heartbreak into help for the community -- the mother of a Milwaukee man murdered three years ago, is honoring his legacy by doing what her son did best: giving back to others.
Those who knew Robert James, say the property manager took people off the streets and trained them so they could get jobs. His other passion focused on preparing children for the start of school, a tradition his loved ones continue to do each year on the anniversary of his death.
Music, dancing and laughter filled the street near 15th and Atkinson Saturday, August 19th as parents and children enjoyed one last carefree weekend together before the start of school.
"I never know what tomorrow might bring so I want to share every great moment with them," said Fanareous Hopkins, attended block party.
Block part organizer, Gloria Nichols, says she and her family raised $3,000 for the bounce house, barbecue and book bags for students.
"Last year we did 125 book bags. This year we have 300 book bags," said Nichols.
The growing event is inspired by her late son, Robert James.
"Every year for school, he took kids to go shopping," said Nichols.
Exactly three years ago Saturday, police say 30-year-old James was shot and killed while fixing up a house.
"I wouldn't wish this on anyone. So that's why I'm taking something so negative and turning it into something positive," Nichols said.
The kind gesture not only helps Nichols with the grieving process, it serves as a reminder for residents to be a part of the solution when they face challenges in their communities.
"It helps a lot because being a man they look at some males as not close to their children. So anytime I get to be with my kids, it's a good feeling," said Hopkins.
"You don't see much people doing a lot of stuff but shooting and killing. So just to do this, it feels like a good opportunity for people to celebrate something good for the community," said 13-year-old Niyah Aikens.
A man was arrested for James' killing but he was acquitted at trial.