2018-03-28 / Local News

Moorestown activist turns attention to gun violence prevention


HOMETOWN: Moorestown

AGE: 70

FAMILY: Husband Larry; children Brian and Jamie; grandchildren Ethan, 9, Miles, 8, and Adam, 6.

SYNAGOGUE: Chabad of Princeton

FAVORITE JEWISH RECIPES: Challah and noodle kugel

HOBBIES: Hallmark movies, bridge, grandchildren and activism

A longtime educator and advocate for children, Ann-Linn Glaser, a grandmother of three, knew she had a new mission after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in an elementary school in Newton, Conn. in 2012.

“After Sandy Hook, I just started crying like everybody else, only I couldn’t stop crying; I still cry when I talk about it,” said Glaser, a Moorestown resident. “I had to figure out a way to be proactive.”

That epiphany led her to become active with Sandy Hook Promise (SHP), a non-profit organization started by several of the parents who lost children in the fourth deadliest single day mass shooting in U.S. history. As an SHP Leader, she is one of nearly 4,000 volunteers across the nation promoting mental health and wellness programs as well as gun violence prevention initiatives in local communities as well at state and national levels. Signature offerings include “Say Anything,” teaching teens how to recognize the signs and signals in social media of someone who may harm themselves or others, as well as “Start With Hello,” providing children and teens the tools to be more socially inclusive and connected to each other.

Having helped implement programs in Northern New Jersey communities where her grandchildren live, Glaser was in the early stages of introducing SHP to Moorestown school and community leaders when the Parkland school massacre occurred last month.

Yet another mass shooting in a school felt even more personal, especially after becoming friendly with several Sandy Hook parents who lost their kids. Yet Glaser said she also feels hopeful that, this time around, conditions are ripe for positive change. Not only has SHP made inroads in recent years in communities nationwide, but the student leaders of Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.—many of them Jewish—are leading an effective campaign demanding gun control and safe schools.

“I don’t think that is coincidental that many of the students speaking out are Jewish,” said Glaser, who is a former vice president of the Jewish Community Relations Council. “These children were brought up to speak out. Part of our Jewish ethic is tikkun olam, repairing the world. I do think we have reached a tipping point. Sandy Hook Promise has been overwhelmed with people calling to become Promise Leaders.”

Meanwhile, in Moorestown, officials are approaching meetings about SHP programs with a new sense of urgency.

“Everyone is looking for these kind of programs,” said Glaser, whose husband Larry is executive director of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education. SHP is dealing with the social emotional component and changing the culture in the schools for the students so they can be in a safer environment. They can be the eyes and ears in schools by learning to look for signs of socially isolated kids and can be actively engaged in keeping schools safer.”

Glaser said her advocacy work with SHP is in some ways similar to the mission of Holocaust educators like her husband. Again, she does not think it is coincidental that the Parkland teens have adapted #NeverAgain to promote their cause. 

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