Client Highlight: Aurora Strong Resilient Center

The Aurora Strong Resilience Center: “a place of healing – it is about building resilience – helping people adapt to change, stress and trauma in healthy and flexible ways”. Built in response to the 2012 movie theater shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, the Resilience Center connects the community and serves as a resource to those affected by the disaster. It is a haven to family members, survivors, and anyone touched by the tragedy and gives space to start the healing process together. In the beginning of a nonprofit program the air is filled with a sense of possibility. We are excited to be a small part of the Resilience Center as we guide the advisory board and staff through their first strategic planning process.

To give you a glimpse inside, we are finishing up the Discovery phase this week. After two months of data collection from those inside and outside of the program – we have formed a 360 perspective on where the community wants to see the work grow.  We are thrilled for the upcoming board retreat as the advisors and staff of the Resilience Center can digest the data and start to mold the three-year vision.

Led by Ernie Duff, the Resilience Center is a partnership of Aurora Mental Health Hospital and the City of Aurora.  Advisors of the partnership extend into the fabric of the Aurora community including representatives from  Anschutz Wellness Center, City of Aurora Parks, Recreation and Open Space, City of Aurora Library and Cultural Services, and COVA-Colorado Organization for Victims Assistance along with survivors. Through these partnerships, the center offers one-on-one consulting, group therapy, health and wellness classes, resource networking, and arts and music — all free of charge.Grace Zolnolsky was the first staff member at the Resilience Center and the welcoming voice that visitors first hear as they walk through the doors.  Grace believes, “There are so many people out there who would be deterred from seeking help because of any kind of charge. It really helps open the door to those who would otherwise not look for help.” Helen Richardson of the Denver Post says “the center is the first of its kind in the nation; it offers free services, classes and support groups.”

There is something truly empowering that happens when people in the same situation are brought together; that connection is the root of resilience. “Seeing the center makes my heart happy. It shows that we aren’t alone and that you don’t have to go through (problems) by yourself unless you choose to”, says Corbin Dates, who was in the theater at the time of the shooting.

As the court trial is set to start in the end of this month, no time is more pertinent to reflect on supporting this community. ASRC is a symbol of hope and perseverance for the City of Aurora, and we are proud to be doing great work with this great place.