Almost one year after the tragic shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, many in the community are in need of counseling and support now more than ever.
The Center for Healing and Hope of South Texas officially opened its doors on Friday morning.
Michelle Shields lost her mother and many friends in the tragedy. While it was almost a year ago, she says that the memories are vivid.
“It still feels like yesterday. I still see the images,” she said. “It’s like it just happened.”
Shields said that the center has helped her process emotions of grief.
“For a while, I didn’t want to go out or leave my house,” she said. “Now I’m able to leave and go to the grocery store and go shopping.”
Mary Beth Fisk is the CEO and executive director of the Ecumenical Center. She said that the center has 21 locations across South Texas and serves 21,000 people each year.
“PTSD and trauma can creep up later on. It can show in physical symptoms,” Shields said. “It can cause issues with your heart, high blood pressure, and sleeplessness.”
The new La Vernia location will expand the center’s service and offer help in the community from trained professional counselors.
The center's services are free of charge to anyone recovering from trauma.
For Shields and many other victims, the support is a saving grace.
“They are wonderful here,” Shields said. “I don’t know what I’d do without them.”