It could have been a gathering for a political candidate - the 100 or so people crowded into the Roxborough living room one night last week, sipping wine and listening to speakers.

Instead, party-planner Pam Yaller had brought this group of suburban mothers, city teachers and doctors, fellow Quakers, friends, and acquaintances to her home for an urgent purpose.

"I'm the mother of two boys, but I feel like I'm a mother of all these kids who are being killed. Their blood is the same as mine," Yaller, 41, told her mostly white audience, so crowded that some had to sit on the floor and lean against walls.

The gathering stemmed from a chance encounter in June when Yaller, the mother of boys, ages 9 and 12, attended an interfaith peace march in Germantown and, in line for the bathroom, met Barbara Montgomery, president of the Pennsylvania Million Mom March, an anti-gun-violence group.

Then she read about the killing of 14-year-old Tykeem Law, who was shot to death on his bike in South Philadelphia on July 14 when he wouldn't get out of the way fast enough for a motorist.

"I remember carrying his picture around for a couple days," Yaller said.

Yaller's middle-class enclave of nice homes seems far removed from the violence plaguing some Philadelphia streets.

She is determined to erase the line between the neighborhoods suffering the horrific loss of young lives and the communities that surround them, but may feel untouched.

"It's like you're shopping at Target and kids are being shot. That's the disconnect," said Yaller, who also has been influenced by her mother, who participates in a racial healing group, and brother-in-law, who teaches in an inner-city school.

So Yaller sent out flyers to everyone she knew, urging their attendance. She cleared the furniture out of her living room and rented chairs, then set up a microphone and public address system.

"Let's just brainstorm together and see what can we do about the gun violence in our city, in the suburbs, in the state and in our country," Yaller urged, leading off the meeting.

Among those who had come to the meeting were a West Mount Airy physician, a retired banker from Sellersville, a West Philadelphia block captain, a Temple University lacrosse coach, and a private-school admissions director.

They heard stirring stories from those who have seen the effects of violence firsthand, including Sharon Weiss-Cohen, a counselor at Robert Morris Elementary in North Philadelphia.

Weiss-Cohen broke down in tears as she recalled her conversation with the father of an eighth-grade student whose brother was shot and killed last year. She also worked with a first grader whose father was murdered.

Weiss-Cohen cited a study that suggested that students growing up in violent neighborhoods are being misdiagnosed. Instead of attention deficit disorder, they might be suffering from posttraumatic stress syndrome. She believes it.

"They have grief and trauma, and we expect them to come into school and sit down like you guys are all sitting and listen to the teacher and learn math and reading," she said.

Grief shows up as anger, she said, noting the numerous fights she broke up last year including one in which she was hit by a chair. And some children just show a "numbness." She recalled a group of seventh-grade girls who came to school the day after watching another child get fatally shot in front of them.

"They were chatting about it, but it's not like anybody came and said 'I'm really upset, I have to talk to you about this.' Very numb."

Jim Peterson, a social studies teacher at Simon Gratz High School in North Philadelphia, talked about students of his who had been killed over the years, including a teen who asked a friend to shoot him because he wanted to make the news.

"They thought it was going to be a minor wound and he ended up dying five days later," Peterson said. "It speaks to the fact that young teenage men are looking for somebody to recognize that they are somebody, that they are going somewhere, that they have some worth."

Dan Taylor, a West Mount Airy pediatrician, described his advice to young people if they hear gunshots, not aimed at them: Fall to the ground and roll; don't run. Make yourself a smaller target.

"This is the advice that I'm forced to give to our kids in this city," he said. "It's horrific. I hate to do it. I well up with tears just thinking when I have to do that."

Sitting in a chair off to the side sat Catherine Raymond, a Bala Cynwyd resident who hired Yaller to plan a party for her husband. She had asked friends in her neighborhood to accompany her to the meeting; they all said no.

"How do you get more people to come out?" she asked the group.

"Maybe you just put them in your car and you drag them here," said Montgomery, a Haverford resident.

"I am very frustrated," Raymond said. "They'll write a check [to help], but there's no connection."

The problem in part, she said, is not knowing how to help. The members of the group struggled through the evening to figure out what they could do to make a difference.

"If they had a concrete thing - perhaps we could go to a school as a group and fix it up or paint it," said Raymond, who has helped out in an inner-city school. "They need to be able to connect."

Montgomery also suggested that they write letters to legislators advocating tougher gun laws.

Some planned to join Montgomery's group, which advocates for tougher gun laws and preaches against violence.

Some got out checkbooks.

Marta Byron, a Mount Airy physician, approached Malik Raheem-Johnson, cofounder of the nonprofit Stop the Violence Stop the Madness.

Raheem-Johnson said he would like to find a way to launch a "peace day" for the entire city, with every neighborhood taking part and focusing on the issue.

Weiss-Cohen said she and her husband, Jay, would try to go to more protests and rallies: "Even though we work in the schools, I feel like we need to do more."

Peterson, the Simon Gratz teacher from Mount Airy, was encouraged.

"This kind of thing is like a boost for me. People do care what's going on in North Philadelphia, or at least they're hearing about it. There's another reason to go back this fall and really try to make a difference with my kids."

As for Yaller, she said her Upper Dublin Quaker meeting plans to do a "God not Guns" event as an outgrowth of the meeting.

"I'm up for anything to crash down the divide in the city," she said. "It can be as simple as buying a school uniform for a kid."