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. (Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas, 2022)
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.
“Grief is not a linear process. 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.” – Marian Sokol, Executive Director for CBCST.
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.
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.
CBCST is well-versed in dealing with these types of traumatic events being the largest program of its kind in the country and serving South Texas for 25 years. They created a similar temporary location in Sutherland Springs following the mass shooting there in November 2017. Additionally, they helped launch the Children’s Bereavement Center Rio Grande Valley, which now operates independently and offers the same services as CBCST.
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.
The Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas’ mission is to foster healing for grieving children and youth, their families and the community. As the sole provider of grief support programs for children through young adulthood in South Texas, CBCST wholeheartedly devotes itself to addressing the bereavement needs of children from every culture and social circumstance to help them heal and move forward. CBCST believes that each person’s journey through grief is unique and therefore deserving of a distinctive approach. Their goal is to help children and their caregivers understand the depth of their grief, stabilize and preserve family relationships, and develop healthy coping skills after the death of a loved one.