OAKLAND -- For many years, Lorrain Taylor wept and grieved. That's all she did, the emotional and psychological wounds running deep. While she still does, knowing the pain will never completely go away, Taylor also realized she doesn't have to suffer in silence.
It's been nearly 14 years since her 22-year-old twins, Albade and Obadiah, were gunned down on a busy street in East Oakland, and Taylor has since relayed that message to thousands of others coping with similar losses. By focusing her energies on helping these people, she has finally discovered a way to help herself.
Taylor created 24/7 Gospel in 2004, a faith-based agency assisting grieving families with daily needs, all of which she did herself. This included the donation of groceries, along with cooking and cleaning. Two years later, it was established as a non-profit organization, and its name was changed to 1000 Mothers to Prevent Violence.
Despite the new identity, the group's mission remained the same: Comfort the many families directly impacted by violence.
"Anyone who meets Lorrain knows she has a very big heart and truly wants to make a difference in her community," said Bob Rose, the A's director of public relations. "I find it extremely inspiring to see someone devote their life to a cause that helps an underserved and sometimes overlooked segment of the city that truly suffers in the aftermath of tragedies.
"Lorrain was once in their shoes, so no one is better qualified."
Rose and his wife first encountered Taylor at a social event in Hayward, Calif., and were quickly enamored with her humility and selflessness, which led to an immediate decision to lend their support to her cause.
Taylor's noble efforts will continue next month when she stages the sixth annual Purple Gala, a fundraising dinner to be held Dec. 12 at the Jack London Aquatic Center in Oakland. Rose, who has worked in the Bay Area sports market for more than 20 years, has arranged for guest appearances by a pair of local baseball legends.
Dave Stewart and Dusty Baker, both of whom have been very involved in a variety of charitable endeavors, have agreed to speak at the event to honor victims of violence and their surviving families and friends.
Dignitaries from Oakland's police and fire departments will also be on hand to acknowledge Taylor's work. Taylor, too, will speak, as will Shantee Baker, a 1000 Mothers volunteer who lost her daughter to a stabbing in East Oakland just last year.
"Like a lot of urban areas, Oakland has a lot of challenges," said Rose. "But it also has a large dose of soul and human spirit. Lorrain is a great example of that, and there are many residents here who want to help."
The A's came to Taylor's side in June by honoring her as the first recipient of the "A's Reliever of the Month," which recognizes unsung individuals and non-profit organizations that provide relief in the community, as part of the A's Relief program established by Oakland's bullpen in conjunction with the A's Community Fund.
"As a bullpen, we realize how much our unit can bring relief to the team," said reliever Jerry Blevins. "We want to bring that same relief to those individuals and groups in the community who share our common goal of helping those around us."
Taylor was honored in a special pregame ceremony and received game tickets and meal vouchers, along with an opportunity to meet members of the A's bullpen after watching batting practice from the field. A donation was also made to 1000 Mothers, which not only is aiding grieving families but helping Taylor fulfill her dream of building the multi-service Lorrain Taylor Healing Center in downtown Oakland.
Taylor, who was recently identified as one of the "Power 100" most influential African-Americans in the country by Ebony magazine, is currently managing the non-profit out of her own home in Hayward.
"You can see it's a real passion of hers, but it's such a grassroots effort, and she's doing a lot of it on our own," said Rose. "My wife and I looked at her and said, 'You need some help, and maybe we can help you.' So I was fortunate enough to get in touch with people I know who care about the situation in Oakland.
"There really is no place for these victims' families to go, and Lorrain has become that person. The Oakland Police Department is even referring families to her. So we're just doing what we can to help her even more."
Tickets for the gala dinner, priced at $75 and limited in availability, can be reserved by e-mailing 1000 Mothers, or by calling 510-583-0100. For more information about the organization or the Purple Gala, please visit the 1000 Mothers website.