Colorado Gov. Jared Polis joined a delegation of Boulder community leaders on July 27 for a tour of the Boulderstrong Resource Center, with the governor thanking the people who made it happen.
The resource center, which is operated by Mental Health Partners and King Soopers, serves between 30-40 people each week.
Tour leader Karen Schweihs, who works as a supervisor at the resource center, talked about the wide variety of services that are available, including a new puzzle room.
“People have really been getting into puzzles, so we’re responding to whatever people say they want,” Schweihs said. “It seems like there’s something about focusing in on puzzles and distracting their mind from everything going on to focus on the details of the puzzles. It’s been really helpful for people. Sometimes they play music in here and sometimes it’s just quiet and they work on puzzles together. Sometimes you hear people talking about what happened but oftentimes it’s just focusing on completing the puzzles.”
The governor then asked, “Are most of the people you serve the people who were there at the location or is it more like family?”
Schweihs replied that most of the clients who spend all day at the center are people who were in King Soopers when the mass shooting occurred.
However, resource center staff members have also made a concerted effort to connect with the families of those who were lost, Schweihs said.
The governor also toured another room that includes a wall that’s adorned with paper cranes that were donated by the 7/20 Foundation, which was formed after the 2012 Aurora movie theater tragedy. The cranes are usually fashioned into wreaths that are given to the families of mass shooting victims across the U.S. – the 7/20 Foundation sent 10 such wreaths to Boulder.
The resource center has also designated a room for art therapy, where a permanent “Tree of Life” memorial is under construction. The tree is viewed as a permanent memorial that promotes collective healing, while supporting the community’s expression of grief. Its initial design was conceived by trauma-informed art therapist Jennifer Finney.
The memorial’s main feature – the Tree of Life – will eventually include personal fabrics and clothes donated by the victims’ families and friends.
Fabric and clothing donations should be in green or brown. The items will be accepted during specific construction times, which are listed here.
As the tour wound down, Gov. Polis thanked everyone present for doing the hard – and important – work that made the resource center a reality.
“This is really great work to help the people who have been through, really, the unthinkable,” Polis said. “If you can just imagine what happened to them, this is a big help to them to get their lives back.”
Mental Health Partners’ co-CEO Dixie Casford told Gov. Polis that the resource center did indeed come about because of the community’s hard work.
“What we’ve learned across the course of this work is that this is not short-term, this is going to be a long-term commitment for all of us,” Casford said.
Boulder Mayor Sam Weaver and Boulder County Commissioner Marta Loachamin also accompanied Gov. Polis on the tour of the center, which is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.