Unity in the face of trauma
Lewiston, Maine – After a mass shooting on October 25th left 18 dead and 13 wounded in Lewiston, local community behavioral health organizations rallied together to support victims, families, first responders and affected community members. Tri-County Mental Health Services’ (TCMHS) Project Support You (PSY) team, a unique ride-along partnership with the Lewiston Police Department and Auburn Police Department and EMS, responded with law enforcement to provide immediate support. As the search for the suspected perpetrator continued, TCMHS, Sweetser and other local officials collaborated with state and federal officials to activate a community support space at the Ramada Hotel and Conference Center. Here, community members were able to receive support and get information about ongoing resources to help manage the trauma following the mass shooting event. Supportive counseling, triage and certified disaster behavioral health response dogs from across the country came to Lewiston to offer comfort and furry snuggles to those grieving and stressed.
“In times of trauma, it is important for organizations to collaborate with our partners and offer immediate support to our community members,” says TCMHS CEO Catherine R. Ryder. “No one person or organization can provide all the support that is needed and will continue to be needed for the months and years to come. We have all unified in the face of this trauma. While it is our sincere hope that no other community has to face such an event, I am heartened to know that our community providers can come together, face this challenge and be stronger together as we move toward healing and recovery.”
Community Concepts, TCMHS, Sweetser and other community organizations have been working together with local and State officials to establish the Maine Resiliency Center, which opens Monday, November 13th at noon at 184 Main Street in Lewiston. As the support space at the Ramada closed on Sunday, October 29th, TCMHS provided support at Lewiston City Hall over the next week, as well as established community support space at the Lewiston Public Library and Auburn Public Library from Monday, November 6 through Thursday, November 9. Therapy dogs provided needed comfort at City Hall and both libraries to children and community members looking for hope, healing, and recovery.
“These dogs have provided such comfort to so many who have come to the Ramada, City Hall or the libraries over these last few weeks,” says TCMHS Chief Clinical Officer Colin O’Neill. “Some folks cannot find the words to express their feelings of insecurity, grief and trauma. But seeing the joy and comfort that these dogs provide to numerous individuals warms my heart each time. Interacting with these dogs is sometimes exactly what is needed to open a dialogue and get people the support they need.”