Helping to Heal the Hurt in Uvalde
Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas launches a $2.4 million fundraising campaign to open Uvalde Center providing free grief support
The recent tragedy in Uvalde highlights the need for mental health services and support not only for the families and friends of the 21 victims but for the entire community. The Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas (CBCST) is launching a $2.4 million fundraising campaign to expand its presence in Uvalde.
The $2.4 million five-year operating budget includes real estate, staff salaries and training for CBCST at Uvalde. Because all services offered by CBCST are free, financial donations are essential. Its two-pronged plan for assistance includes: (1) a center offering free grief support programs to the children, families and community members living with grief, and (2) grief and trauma training for Uvalde schoolteachers and counselors.
Fundraising for the project has already brought in donations from several San Antonio businesses and individuals. Anyone interested in donating may do so online at https://give.cbcst.org/uvalde.
“Grief is not a linear process,” says Marian Sokol, Executive Director for CBCST. “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 them for as long as it takes.”
CBCST was on the ground in Uvalde within hours of the mass shooting and counselors specifically trained in grief and trauma have remained. They are currently operating out of a temporary space and plan to open a more permanent location in the next 45 days.
“The Uvalde Center is intended to be a very calm, welcoming space for anyone in the community who feels they need help,” Dr. Sokol says. “Grief takes time, and our intent is not to rush anyone through that process. We just want those in Uvalde to know that we are there if and when they need us.”
Ultimately, the Center in Uvalde will be modeled after the CBCST, offering the same services. These include individual counseling, grief camps and peer support groups for children, parents and caregivers.
The second prong of the plan will begin immediately with grief and trauma training for schoolteachers and counselors in the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District (UCISD). In fact, CBCST already has some connection to UCISD counselors through a recent virtual training that specifically addressed how to talk to grieving children.
“CBCST is honored to support the many dedicated educators under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Hal Harrell, who have courageously supported the families of UCISD during this unimaginable tragedy,” Dr. Sokol says. “We will remain onsite in Uvalde in the days, weeks, and months ahead to support families who are emotionally exhausted and to provide grief education training to teachers, counselors and staff.”
The Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas (CBCST) has secured a lease for a space in Uvalde located at 221 N. Getty. This space will be used for “Comfort and Consults,” a space where families can feel safe and secure while inquiring about grief support services. All services provided will come at no cost to families, like the location in San Antonio. The space is scheduled to be open to the public in the next two weeks. Counselors from CBCST continue to travel to Uvalde daily and are available to community members at the Benson Education Complex.
Visit the CBCST website at http://www.cbcst.org.