For the residents of Uvalde, processing grief and trauma will take time. These San Antonio organizations and volunteers are committed to staying as long as they’re needed.
Caring for others in need is the core mission of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of San Antonio, so it was only natural that the organization went straight to Uvalde after the mass shooting.
And it’s not leaving anytime soon. CCAOSA is one of several San Antonio organizations that is making plans to remain in Uvalde to support the community and the families of the 19 children and two teachers who were killed May 24 at Robb Elementary School.
“We know that this is not going to be a short-term counseling effort,” says Tara Ford, communications director for CCAOSA. “The funerals will slow down, the media will leave, but we’ll still be there to help them heal.”
Marian Sokol, Ph.D., MPH and executive director for the Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas, agrees and says that’s why they’ve launched a $2.4 million fundraising campaign to open the Uvalde Center, which will provide free grief support as well as grief and trauma training for Uvalde teachers and counsellors.
“Grief is not a linear process,” Sokol says, adding that it’s important for counseling and support to specifically address the trauma the community has gone through. “The Uvalde community and surviving families will go through many stages over an extended period of time—most likely years. We will be here for as long as it takes.”
The Ecumenical Center already has opened The Uvalde Together Resiliency Center, which is providing counseling and support in both English and Spanish, while the organization Give an Hour set up a free mental health clinic in the El Progreso Memorial Library in Uvalde. The clinic is staffed largely by volunteers who are licensed clinical providers.
“It’s important to address the long-term trauma suffered by the community and we are here to help,” says Bob Stead, a San Antonio resident who is a Give an Hour network provider and mental health care professional.
It’s especially vital for children affected by trauma to be supported in ways they understand so that they can learn to cope during therapy, says Chloe Palacios, CBCST marketing and communications manager. “This typically involves some level of expressive therapy. It might be art therapy, movement/dance, sand tray or play therapy,” she says. “Our counselors allow the child to take the lead and express themselves in a way that allows them to feel understood without saying a word.”
Along with offering individual counseling, CBCST’s Uvalde Center will have grief camps and peer support groups for children, parents and caregivers. They want the community to have plenty of options for processing its trauma.
“Trauma affects our brain’s ability to speak about what happened and can also affect our ability to respond. Some may experience either fight, flight, or freeze, which can be difficult to navigate in our day-to-day lives,” Sokol says.
Kim Antley, communications coordinator for Give an Hour, says with the Uvalde community being so small and close-knit, the need for support also extends far beyond the families of the victims.
“We want to ensure everyone who needs help can share their grief and feelings with a professional at no cost,” she says.
How You Can Help
To donate to CCAOSA’s Uvalde relief efforts, visit ccaosa.org. Supportive posters and cards for families of the victims and the Uvalde community can be mailed to 202 W. French Place, San Antonio, 78212, and those will be delivered to Uvalde.
To donate to the CBCST’s fundraising campaign, visit give.cbcst.org
To make a donation for Give an Hour’s free mental health clinic in Uvalde, visit giveanhour.org. The organization is also in need of licensed medical health care providers to give their time. Those interested should visit giveanhour.org for more details.
For more info about the Uvalde Together Resiliency Center, click here.