HAYWARD -- Since 1994, when the Children's Memorial Grove opened on Fairmont Ridge near San Leandro, about 60 Hayward young people and almost 200 in Oakland have died from violence.
Former Supervisor Gail Steele, who was the force behind the Memorial Grove, wants to remember them. On Tuesday, Steele donated a statue to Hayward that will do just that. Steele plans to do the same in Oakland.
The monuments by Utah sculptor Dennis Smith depict three children. With the permission of the families, Steele chose Jenny Lin of Castro Valley, who was 14 when she was found slain in her home in 1994; Christopher Jones of Oakland, who was 17 when he was killed in 2010 outside his home; and Warren Hoffman of Oakland, who was 3 when his father stabbed him and his mother in 1992.
In Alameda County, since 1994, a total of 385 children under the age of 17 were lost to violence.
"Kids are dying all over this country all year long," Steele said. "It's an issue that is not being discussed, and I don't know why."
In Hayward, the life-size bronze statue will rest atop a black granite base from Bras and Mattos Monument Company. Engraved in those bases will be the names of the Hayward children who died.
The City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to accept the memorial.
"We're honored you made this donation, this contribution to the city," Mayor Michael Sweeney told Steele at the council meeting.
The statue will be installed near
Most of the money for the two sculptures, $90,000, was allocated from Steele's budget during her years as an Alameda County supervisor; she retired in 2011 after more than 18 years in office. The rest, $10,000, is from royalties from the sale of Children's Memorial Flags.
"This project has been in the works for years," Steele said.
Now that Hayward has accepted one of the two sculptures, the former supervisor will turn more of her attention to getting Oakland's approval for the other. She would like to see a memorial at Lake Merritt.
While she has worked to have memorials in the two cities with the highest number of violent deaths of children in Alameda County, Steele said she hopes other cities both in the county and across the nation will create similar memorials where parents can go and see their children's names.
"People don't understand a lot about grief. It never, ever goes away," she said. "When you lose a child by violence, it's almost worse than by cancer, because it didn't have to happen, and there's nothing you can do."
Contact Rebecca Parr at 510-293-2473. Follow her at Twitter.com/rdparr1.