Latoya Johnson Aranjo

Left Hearts, Inc.Bridgeport, CTFounder & Directorleftheartsinc@gmail.com

Hello My Name is Latoya Johnson Aranjo and I am the Founder of Left Hearts, Inc. I am no stranger to gun violence. I have lost numerous friends and family from it to a point where it became a norm and made me numb. My nieces’ father was killed before she was born and never got a chance to meet him. Over the years I have seen her cope with this pain and it was not an easy task. I’ve seen many other kids suffer in silence just like her and it was sad to see these kids mourning at funerals and it broke my heart. I am no stranger in my community. I have done pop up movie nights, fundraisers for funerals, gun violence rallies and memorial tournaments for the deceased. My uncle Eddie (Senator Edwin Gomes) persuaded me to invest more in my community by way of advocating for the youth. He told me, “If you believe you can make change there will be change, here’s a dollar.” He literally gave me a $1.00 and proceeded to say, “I support you and believe in anything you do. I will back you 100%. Be the change you want to be.” At that point I realized that there were support groups for parents but not one for kids who lost their parents to gun violence. I thought enough is enough! As a result, I started a group called Left Hearts in which I would help kids who lost parents or siblings due to gun violence. You always hear about the parents that lose their children but never the victims’ children that were left behind. That is how the name “Left Hearts” came to be; Hearts that are broken and left behind. One of the events that marked this organization was a “Paint to Remember” my friend Issie and I organized This. It became a place where kids who lost their parents due to gun violence or have experienced trauma can come together and help each other heal and cope with the pain. Many people ask me why it is that I care so much for these kids. My answer is this: “I have two boys at home. One, the age of 15 and the other, the age of 3. I could easily be that next mom weeping as I bury my son. Until we realize that we our losing our children so quickly, that murderers are getting younger and victims are getting younger as well, these lost children need guidance! We need to come up with a plan to get guns off of the streets because once our children and youth of today end up on the other side of a gun it is over! This is my drive and my passion. I choose to be the person to help a broken heart heal.”