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Three Years After The Shooting, Parkland Cares Awards More Grant Money For Mental Health

A makeshift shrine for Carmen Schentrup stands outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Hers is one of 17 shrines to the victims of the Parkland shooting.
Melisa Block
A makeshift shrine for Carmen Schentrup stands outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Hers is one of 17 shrines to the victims of the Parkland shooting.

The organization Parkland Cares, founded in the wake of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, awarded $100,000 in grant money recently to local mental health service providers.

Last month marked three years since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. One organization, Parkland Cares, is working to fulfill its promise to make sure avenues for mental health counseling in the community are funded in the years to come.

The fundraising nonprofit Parkland Cares recently distributed a new round of grant money to four local mental health providers, totaling $100,000.

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The money, which the fundraising arm raised through donations, has specifications that it only goes towards therapy for direct service for the MSD community.

Stacey Udine, the executive director of Parkland Cares, said that the organization normally structures grants twice a year, but was seeing and hearing about a greater need for mental health services around the third anniversary of the shooting.

"With the anniversary and so much depression happening in the city — you just felt it in the community — the organizations kind of called out and said, we need to give more services than usual," she said.

"As time goes by, certain kids and certain community members are like, 'Whoa, what just happened in my community?' You know, it's really setting in. So it's not the short-term effect. It's now the long-term effect that they're dealing with," Udine said, noting that those ongoing effects are part of the group's focus to fund therapy for people, now.

"We're trying to handle the PTSD so that the students and the community at large in the future can have a regular, normal life," she said.

The students at Stoneman Douglas that were freshman when the shooting on their school campus killed 17 people and injured 17 others, are getting ready to graduate — now during a pandemic that has largely kept them online and away from their friends.

Read More: Class Of COVID-19: For Survivors Of Trauma At School, Pandemic Is One More Disruption

Udine said even with the last class of students, that were on campus that tragic day in 2018, getting ready to graduate, there is more work to be done to fund therapy for others affected in the years ahead.

"I think we still can't forget the teachers, the staff, the parents who live and have to deal with the students that have suffered and seen these horrible things that have occurred at the school," Udine said. "We can't let people forget that that this happened and we need to take care of our community."

This new round of grants brings Parkland Cares' total funding for therapy since the shooting up to $675,000.

The organizations that received the latest round of grants are: Tomorrow's Rainbow, Children's Bereavement Center, Henderson Behavioral Health, and Eagles' Haven.

Learn more about the organizations and the awards they received below:

Tomorrow's Rainbow: $30,000
Focuses mainly on counseling for children and teens and families through equine therapy programs.

Eagles Haven Wellness Center: $25,000
Plans to use the grant money for critical crisis assistance, which includes crisis intervention and making therapy referrals.

Henderson Behavioral Health: $25,000
Plans to use the funds from Parkland Cares to provide more telehealth therapy sessions for people affected by the shooting.

Children's Bereavement Center: $15,000
Focuses on free grief counseling and support groups, some of which have gone virtual during the pandemic.

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
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