ODESSA, Texas — As West Texas marks three years since the mass shooting on August 31, 2019, one of the non-profits that works towards healing is the Family Resiliency Center. The center was created shortly after the mass shooting to give free long-term resources for the community.
If you were to ask what's changed since that day in 2019, you'd get a couple answers.
Three years later, the Family Resiliency Center's Program Director, Chandra Coleman, can tell you exactly what has changed through her eyes.
"Our client base has grown," said Coleman. "We are more connected to this community than we were previously. We have a brand new staff and we are pushing forward to bigger and better things. We continue to remain here to help people remember that hope and healing are possible and that's really our focus."
The center provides counseling available for anyone who has experienced trauma from the events of August 31.
"We work with people who have experience trauma to help them find healing," said Coleman. "There is no such thing as 'normal' anymore. We have a new 'normal' every day that we wake up to because of what experiences happen. So we just walk alongside people and we really try to do life with them, help them learn coping skills and get connected to professional services when they need them."
Whether grief ever goes away, you'd have to see how many people walk through these doors to know why it doesn't always.
"Grief is individual," said Coleman. "The way that I grieve, the way you grieve, the way that anybody grieves between them and their grief, it doesn’t go away. You can learn coping skills but the most important message is to give yourself permission to feel what you need to feel and be gracious enough to allow other people to grieve in their own way."
Small reminders of what happened isn't always the easiest thing to see. But for some people, it can help them heal.
"Some people need to be connected to the memories so for some people, media coverage can be cathartic," said Coleman. "For others, it is devastating."
The center has opened up free mental health first aid classes at no cost. It's to help people learn how to process their feelings.
"One of the reasons that we’re excited to offer that on the anniversary is because we want to as much as possible help our community move forward," said Coleman.
Grief is just one of the many steps to healing, but it also opens the door to hope.
"We want to celebrate the memory of those that we lost but we also want to celebrate our ability to come together and move forward," said Coleman.
If you want to find out how you can get help or sign up for future events, click here.