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Roseburg Begins The Healing Process

John Rosman/OPB
Candles and tissues were handed out during a vigil held last week in Roseburg for the victims of the shooting at Umpqua Commuinity College

Roseburg residents are raising money and offering moral support to those affected by the mass shooting there last week. The tragic event left 10 people dead, including the shooter, and another nine wounded.

A relief fund for victims’ families was set up almost immediately. Bryan Trenkle is the executive director of Greater Douglas United Way, the fiscal agent for the UCC Relief Fund. He says the latest figures show the fund has raised $300,000 so far. The money will be used for assisting victims’ families with various expenses like medical bills, counseling and airfare for relatives coming from outside Oregon to help provide support.

“We’re trying to be quick and efficient in meeting those needs, but at the same point in time this isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon,” Trenkle said.

Trenkle says he reached out to Oklahoma City, Blacksburg, Virginia, and other communities that have been affected by similar tragedies to learn from their experiences.

“They suggested we have a committee of community leaders … to make those decisions on how we disperse our funds,” he said.

In addition to the UCC Relief Fund, families and friends of the victims have begun raising money on their own through sites like GoFundMe. A GoFundMe page for one of the survivors, Chris Mintz, has brought in close to $800,000 and according to Trenkle, GoFundMe has decided to donate their usual administrative fee from that fund to the UCC Relief Fund.

Religious leaders have a big role to play in the ongoing recovery as Roseburg residents begin the healing process. Jon Nutter, pastor at Hucrest Community Church of God, says he and his fellow pastors went to work almost immediately. 

“I’m persuaded that the best counsel in a time of trauma and tragedy is less speaking and more simply being present,” he said.

Nutter says he thinks religious leaders need to make themselves available to the community even more than usual in a time of crisis.

“I think we need to be more integrated, more integral, in our community to be more visibly present as the kind of compassionate, caring, consistent people that Christ calls us to be,” he explained.

Nutter has also been referring parishioners to people like Roger Horton, a licensed clinical pastoral counselor with LifeCare Counseling Servicesin Roseburg.

“I’m expecting the fallout from this in a lot of different ways could go on for years,” Horton said.

In addition to professional counseling, he encourages people to support one another.

“You don’t have to be trained to listen and sometimes people just want to talk,” said Horton.

Copyright 2015 OPB