They were disasters in Ventura County which all happened within a 24 hour period: The Borderline Bar and Grill shooting, which left 12 victims dead, and then the Hill and Woolsey Fire, which killed three and destroyed more than 1600 structures. While the disasters have dropped from the headlines, the need for help is still huge.
Vanessa Bechtel is the President and CEO of the Ventura County Community Foundation. The Foundation has spearheaded fundraising for Borderline attack and fire victims, with more than eight million dollars raised. Bechtel says more than 25,000 people have contributed to relief efforts.
Some of the big needs at this point include counseling for those trying to deal with the trauma of the disasters. The Community Foundation teamed up with the non-profit group “Give An Hour.” It’s more than 130 therapists in the region which are donated their services to help.
With a number of students from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks impacted by the Borderline attack, its counseling center has stepped up with individual and group support efforts. Ginny Merril is a psychologist who’s Director of Cal Lutheran’s Counseling and Psychological Services. She says it’s especially important to reach people who need support, but haven’t sought it yet.
Even though the disasters have slipped from the headlines, with the needs continuing, the Community Foundation is continuing its fundraising efforts. Some $3.6 million dollars has been distributed to those impacted by the Borderline shooting.
Bechtel says one of the amazing this is that while so many people have stepped up to help, the community has also continued to support ongoing non-profit programs. She says the foundation will continue to help as long as there is a need, and that unfortunately, it looks like that need isn’t going to go away anytime soon.