An Abbeville mother whose son was killed last year is working to put an end to gun violence.
Nearly one year ago, 14-year-old Dylan Plowden was shot and killed near Kibbie and Vernon streets in Abbeville.
Jalen Levine is facing a first-degree murder charge in Plowden’s death. Investigators say Plowden identified him as the shooter in the hospital before he died.
Since then, there have been five gun-related deaths in the city.
Now, his mother is working to bring those numbers down.
“This is the very last picture that I took with my son. It brings a lot of tears. You know, you try to be strong for your other kids, but your heart cries,” said Megan Plowden, Dylan’s mother.
Tuesday night, she held a vigil in her son’s memory. Although her son is no longer here, she hopes to spread a message that will resonate with those in the community.
“We’re all in charge of our own destiny, but don’t let your destiny lead you to the graveyard or the jailhouse,” Megan said to the audience, which was made up of many of Dylan’s friends.
In the past year since Dylan’s death, his mother has spent time with the children and teenagers in the community to let them know that violence is not the answer.
“I also let them know that I love them, and I don’t want them to lose their life at such a young age because Dylan wasn’t ready to die. He was so young, and I don’t want their parents to deal with what I’m dealing with because it’s very hard. No mother wants to bury their child at such a young age,” she said.
She says she meets with some of Dylan’s friends regularly to show there’s more to life than what’s in the streets.
“She gives us advice, she helps us try to get jobs, she tells us to stay in school, you know. She tells us to be the best you can be. Be great at whatever you want to be, you know. She’s just trying to help the kids to stay out of trouble. She takes them on a lot of trips; we recently went to a water park,” said Ashara Hurst, a friend of Dylan’s.
“She doesn’t want any mothers to go through what she went through,” continued Chloe Major, another friend of Dylan’s.
“She’s basically like our second mom,” said Adeisha Major.
Plowden is working on starting a non-profit called We Matter: Dylan’s Save the Youth, where she will provide after school activities for kids in the community.
“It means a lot, the motivation it makes you want to do something instead of being here with the violence and entertaining it. It makes you want to do better and get away from that life,” said Hurst.
Megan hopes to help the youth keep their grades up and keep them active so they can stay out of trouble.
“Not saying that we can stop all at once but at least we’re trying. If we can save one then we can try to save them all,” she said.
She is still working to officially get the non-profit up and running so she can help more kids in the community.