The Empathy Project – PENN

Markel Girty
Nickalas Lee
Brooks Mullen
Jimmie Lee Penn, Sr. and Jamie LeVar Penn, Sr.

Family Statement by Renea Taylor and Tracy Penn

Renea and Tracy’s father

Jimmie Lee Penn Sr. was a father, a son, a brother, a grandfather and a staple in the community.  He was a friend to all and never met a stranger.  Jimmie Lee was born and raised in the city of Roanoke. He loved his city, and took pride in the fact that he was a native Roanoker.  He embodied the adage “each one reach one”.  He believed everyone deserved a second chance.  After retiring from Norfolk and Southern Railroad, Jimmie Lee really dedicated himself to the betterment of those in the marginalized community.  He began to purchase and renovate homes in order to offer affordable housing to those in need.  He lived by the motto that everyone deserves someplace to live.  He catered to those that others in his position turned a blind eye towards and turned away.  Unfortunately, the things that he loved and dedicated himself to cost him his life.  Jimmie Lee was murdered on his own rental property while preparing it for new tenants.  In one senseless act of violence, one pulls of a trigger, his life was taken. His death has left a huge void in his family and in the many lives he touched.

Renea and Tracy’s brother

Jamie LeVar Penn Sr.  was a father, a brother, a son, AND…

Unfortunately, his story ends with “AND” because we will never know how much more he would have accomplished.  His life ended at the age of 24 because someone decided he didn’t deserve to complete the rest of his assignment here on earth.  Jamie was full of life and loved his family dearly.  He was a shining star that lit up any room with his presence.  Jamie made a huge impact in the sports arena.  He was a gifted football player who earned many honors and awards including all times land. While Jamie enjoyed sports and took tremendous pride in his accomplishments on the field, he believed his greatest accomplishment was becoming a father. He wanted to make sure his children were well cared for.  Although Jamie’s life was cut short by gun violence, his legacy lives on through his three children.

The Empathy project keeps the legacy of Jimmie Lee and Jamie LeVar Penn alive.  It gives them a voice and a face so the world continues to hear and see them.  They are not just names on tombstones or stories in a news article.  The Empathy Project allows us to remind the world that they were great men with wonderful personalities, and families.  Hopefully, through this project other will realize the impact that gun violence has on families and communities.  It is our hope that someone will decide to agree to disagree, put the gun down and simply walk away.

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