Featured speaker Mayor Hunschofsky at the Parkland Chamber of Commerce Breakfast.

By: Sharon Aron Baron

Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky said the community is in a tough spot right now and urged families to get the help they needed.

At a breakfast meeting on Monday with the Parkland Chamber of Commerce to discuss the state of the city, Hunschofsky said she would be remiss not to mention what happened on February 14. 

“Nobody even knew where Parkland was. When we spoke about Parkland, we were somewhere between Fort Lauderdale and Boca.” She said that now residents can’t go anywhere in the country without people instantly knowing about the events that took place here.

She met with Nicole Hockley whose son Dylan was a victim at Sandy Hook Elementary.  Hockley explained to her the difficulties that cities go through after a mass shooting. 

“First of all, we have the shock and the grief associated with the lives that we lost,” said Hunschofsky. “Lives that we have to work on making sure that they are never yet forgotten. That it wasn’t in vain without some change occurring, and to make sure this never happens again. But then we cannot also forget that, we as a community, are all grieving at our own levels.”

Everyone is somehow connected to somebody who perished on that day, somebody we lost.  She said the city has a lot of Type A personalities.who can do it all by themselves and don’t need any help. That’s great on a good day.  On a bad day that’s really bad because we all need help.  And we’re not people who ask for help, we’re people who say,“how can we help?”

Hunschofsky asked everyone to make a promise to themselves, their community, and to her that they would admit that they’re not really okay.

“I don’t know how anybody goes through this and is okay afterwards. That is not human. I’m personally very concerned about the after effects of this,” said Hunschofsky.

Hockley told her that after a tragedy such as this, a tsunami hits the community. Hunschofsky believes that Parkland hasn’t been hit yet, and the only way to avoid it is to make sure residents get all the care they need – as well as care for one another. 

“That also means somebody may be angry one day and they don’t know why, and you just happen to be the target.  It’s not easy, I know from experience. You have to take a breath and realize, that’s not them with you, that’s the trauma and the grief.”

She said some people in the community have become divided and she sees how people are talking to one another and banding together in very separate groups right now and it’s very important that we all understand that whatever people’s opinions, whatever people’s thoughts are, each one of these groups and people are doing things they think will help because they’re all in pain.  The more we remember we’re all human and we’re all suffering, we will be able to help each other more.

Hunschofsky said that they’re having a hard time getting students and parents from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to seek help. Parent’s anxieties all came to the top with this event and that’s getting transferred to the kids. 

“Your kids can’t be okay if you’re not okay and if you’re not addressing these traumatic events. They bring out previous traumas, and previous issues that weren’t addressed.  It’s hard to address them, but we need to address them for the well-being of our families and our community as a whole.”

She recommended families take advantage of the Broward County Resiliency Center where they can walk in on the weekends from 12:00 p.m. —5:00 p.m and during the weekdays from 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Teen Support Group Grades 9-12 Mondays from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.

Parent Support Group Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Broward County Public Schools Staff Support Group Thursdays from 4 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Located at the Recreational and Enrichment Center, 10559 Trails End, Activity Room 4, Parkland, FL, 33076.