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Community Group Forms in Wake of UCC Tragedy

John Rosman

The day after a gunman killed nine people at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg residents organized to support the victims and their families. The Community Healing and Response Team, CHART, meets weekly and coordinates how to best serve those affected by the tragedy. KLCC spoke with facilitator Meredith Bliss.

The response team formed organically in the days following the shooting at UCC, according to Bliss. She says a cross section of people from different organizations saw a need to collaborate.  
Bliss: “People were starting to think about how this is going to be a marathon, not a sprint, and we really needed to also have our sights set on what happens after we got through the immediate phase of things.”
More than 75 people have been involved in CHART—that includes community college leaders, business and mental health professionals, and members of the UCC Strong Committee.
The group has three goals: support victims, support each other, and strengthen the community.
Bliss: “It just became increasing apparent that so many of the people around the table were people who were really on the front line of things and working tirelessly and going through a real tragedy themselves.”
The group, with support from the State, helped open the Umpqua Wellness Center in Roseburg. It offers free drop in counseling services through February.
Bliss says CHART wants to support efforts like this in the long term.
Bliss: “What’s very apparent is that the mental health needs are not going to go away anytime soon, that there are a lot of resources that our community frankly may have needed before, but really is going to need now. There’s a real desire to make sure in the long term that our people are taken care of, that our system and structures are functioning at a very high level, and that we, in all the ways that you possibly can turn such a tragedy into an opportunity, that we’re taking advantage of that to make us stronger for the long term.”
Meredith Bliss is with CHART, the Community Healing and Response Team. The group formed after the UCC shooting in October. CHART—with help from the Governor’s office—is in the process of forming a leadership council to help guide their efforts into the future.

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