CAPITAL DISTRICT Stacey Rhodes doesn’t want what happened to her son Tyler to happen to any other child. So, she does the only thing she feels she can do to halt the cycle of violence: talk about it.
“I bring a board with pictures of my son all over it. I bring my son’s ashes with me and I tell them, ‘This is what happens. You can either be buried or live. This is all I have left,’” said Rhodes.
Tyler Rhodes was stabbed to death in Hoffman Park in Albany last April in a dispute with other teens. He was 17.
Rhodes speaks to students around the Capital District (so far she’s visited Albany, East Greenbush, Bethlehem and Troy) about why it’s so critical to stop violence and uses her own tragedy to hammer the point home.
“I see shock. Reality check. Wow,” said Rhodes. “They get talking and ask me questions.”
Rhodes said she doesn’t shy away from the truth. In fact, exposing her most vulnerable thoughts is what’s played a big part in helping her heal.
“I say, ‘I have my daughter to be strong for.’ I can’t curl up in a ball and cry in my bed all day and shut down from reality,” said Rhodes.
She’s so serious about evoking change that she’s Facebook friends with many students around the region. Some even have her cell phone number and she makes sure every single one of them knows she’s there for them, if they need her.
“They contact me and say ‘I’m upset.’ I’m always there for the kids,” said Rhodes. “I say, ‘Make sure you talk to your mom, grandma, auntie, dad, whoever. One kid did that and she and her mother are super close now. You need to be open and not attack and put everything as an ‘I.’”