Shortly after the May 18, 2018, mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, local leaders and community members saw a need to open a resiliency center that could help all people affected by the tragedy. Aldersgate United Methodist Church has been home to the Santa Fe Resiliency Center, an asset in the healing community for nearly a year.
The center, led by Carol Gaylord, operates in partnership with the city and the Santa Fe Independent School District, as well as four agencies that have come together to help provide mental health services.
Counselors and therapists from the Texas Children’s Trauma and Grief Center, the Gulf Coast Center, Innovative Alternatives and others are available for individual and group therapies.
While traditional therapy and counseling are available, Gaylord and her staff have set up many activity-based therapies that can help support children and adults with various needs, she said.
“We want to offer a wide variety of therapies because I think everyone feels comfortable doing something different,” Wendy Norris, the center’s public information officer, said. “And we will always be open to trying something new if our mental health professionals think it will be a good idea.”
Yoga therapy has been a staple every Tuesday night at the recovery center. Participants come when they need a time to reflect and let go of their stress.
Yoga allows the body to decompress the emotions that could reside in the mind, yoga instructor Annette Martinez said.
One of the newest programs is music therapy led by Beth Rogers. Students from the high school have attended the past two weeks to hit drums, shake maracas and make tunes together.
“When people are going through trauma, it’s important to feel grounded with physical activity and music especially helps,” Rogers said. “Music allows them to express themselves without having to talk about how they feel.”
Art and crafting also have been consistent activities at the resiliency center. Students have painted objects like trash cans and rocks to help spread positivity through the community. They have also created many mosaics together and participated in art contests.
“We want to make this a place for positivity,” Gaylord said. “People love creating and it helps to focus on something.”
The center saw a great turnout when they helped girls get ready for Santa Fe’s prom. Volunteers went to Aldersgate to help girls with hair and makeup before their prom. Donated dresses, tuxedos and jewelry also were available to anyone in need.
“We were so happy to see so many people here,” Gaylord said. “It’s fun to see everyone dress up and be excited for a big night.”
Gaylord wants to see the center only grow by implementing more activities that adolescents can enjoy together.
“We want to give kids a place to come this summer,” Gaylord said. “There isn’t a safe meeting place for students to come to be together, but we want to be that place for them.”
The resiliency center plans to continue its mission to help the people of Santa Fe by continuing programs indefinitely.
Norris knows the resiliency center will continue to be an important part of the Santa Fe community and will become more vital to people recovering as time goes on, she said.
“It is common in the first year to be in a fog, because it’s difficult to sort through feelings and emotions when you are just trying to get through the firsts,” Norris said. “Sometimes, years two and three are harder than the first, because people are trying to accept their new normal.”
Anyone interested in services can walk in or call to set up an appointment. Alternatively, there is an adult peer support group that meets on Mondays and a teen peer support group that meets on Saturdays. Yoga and music therapies are offered on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, respectively.
“As long as there is a need and funding through the state, we will be here ready to help anyone,” Norris said.
On Saturday, the resiliency center will be hosting Resiliency Day — Remembering Angels at the Galveston County Fairgrounds in Hitchcock from 2 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Activities are planned through the day before a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m.