Carol Gaylord, who this week became director of the Santa Fe Strong Resiliency Center, plans to introduce new programs, including group and art therapy, for people affected by the May 18 mass high school shooting in which 10 people were killed and more than a dozen were wounded.
“I want to see the center be the best center for the individuals and families affected by the tragedy,” Gaylord said. “We want to keep everything on a positive note because there’s so much negativity out there.”
The Santa Fe Strong Resiliency Center at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 13217 FM 1764, operates in partnership with the city, Santa Fe Independent School District and Gulf Coast Center, a nonprofit providing mental health and recovery services in Galveston County.
The center, funded by the Gulf Coast Center with the city providing some office supplies, offers case management, counseling and referrals to resources that can help people recover from the tragedy, officials said.
City officials have approved opening three bank accounts in anticipation of receiving grant money and donations to pay for the counseling center offering emotional and psychological support to residents after the shooting.
Two of the three accounts would hold money from two grants the city is seeking from state and federal sources. The city has applied for a Victims of Crime Act grant from Texas Governor’s Office and victim support services grant through the federal Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program, officials said.
Gaylord, who is a Santa Fe resident, has been involved with local organizations, including Battle of the Badges, which is an event held in Galveston to benefit local children’s charities. Santa Fe officials could not be reached to provide Gaylord’s specific pay.
Counseling has a stigma, and the center wants to break that stigma and create a safe place, Gaylord said.
“We want to make sure people know we are here,” she said. “Just come in and talk to someone. We will be good listeners.”
Gaylord, who will be paid through the applied grants, hopes the center can also offer services to the teachers of Santa Fe High School, she said.
Gaylord’s compassion and expertise made her the best fit for the job, City Manager Joe Dickson said.
“After interviewing Carol and seeing her hit the ground running, I know she is the perfect fit for the center,” he said. “I look forward to working with Carol.”
The Gulf Coast Center will help Gaylord settle into the position, she said.
“The Gulf Coast Center is the one who is organizing,” she said. “Eventually, all of that will be turned over to me. I’ll be hiring an art therapist and other positions.”
The community needs to continue to band together as the city heals, Gaylord said.
“The outpour of support and generosity has just been heartfelt,” she said. “It’s a small community and a lot of people know people.”