Our South Bay community is barely more than a week away from the shattering news of a mass shooting at the beloved Gilroy Garlic Festival. I share the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that I’ve heard so many of my friends and family express. Given how overpowering that shared feeling is, it’s all the more remarkable to see our strong nonprofits and nonprofit leaders jump into action to address the overwhelming needs of the direct victims and those of the larger community.
Immediately after the shooting, Community Solutions and Rebekah Children’s Services, with the support of the County Behavioral Health Department, established a drop-in counseling and support center at a local high school. In that first day, 170 people came to this center for support with trauma, fear, and grief. Experts from the Centre for Living with Dying, a program of Bill Wilson Center/Uplift Family Services, gave essential guidance to the emerging collaboration of responders, led community support meetings, and provided critical incident stress management for first responders. In addition to providing on-going drop-in support services for the community, these nonprofits, and their school district partners, are now putting in place onsite support for Gilroy’s children who return to school next week.
The philanthropy community also responded quickly with the Gilroy Foundation taking the lead to create the Gilroy Garlic Festival Victims Relief Fund, which saw a powerful response from the community leading to significantly over a half of a million dollars of donations. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation made the first donation of $10,000 to start the fund. The Packard Foundation made a major gift of $50,000. Kaiser Permanente also made a donation to the Red Cross and the Bill Wilson Center in the amount of $75,000.
Collaboration and partnership has been the name of the game. Nonprofits who have long recognized that collaboration is vital to the overall function of their nonprofit have found that they’re exercising new muscles and are seeing the power of coordinating across silos. They’re finding it essential to partner not only with more familiar entities like school districts, but also with the FBI, district attorney office, state officials, and a university. The Gilroy Foundation’s most recent blog posts speaks of helpers streaming in from all corners of the community, including numerous businesses and even the local major sports teams.
Nonprofit folk are all in our roles to benefit the community. It bears mentioning that the Garlic Festival is itself a nonprofit fundraiser. But sometimes these daily helpers morph into something more—I hesitate to say heroes but perhaps that’s the best word we have in English. At this point, a week out, they’re fueled by lack of sleep, adrenaline, need, each other, and—most of all—love of community.
All of us at SVCN give our thanks to all the Gilroy crisis responders including our nonprofit sisters and brothers, and, please, take care of yourselves.
Chief Executive Officer