DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Friday, August 4, 2023, marks four years since the mass shooting in Dayton’s historic Oregon District.
A gunman opened fire on Fifth Street on August 4, 2019, killing nine people.
What happened that night forever changed the community.
“It’s hard to talk about. Trauma is uncomfortable but sometimes we have to push through,” says Joanna White, the Director of Montgomery County’s Trauma Recovery Center under the umbrella of Family Services.
“Family Services has always been involved in trauma work since its conception in 1896. In 2021, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office recognized Family Services as a Trauma Recovery Center.”
Following the mass shooting, they hit the ground, working to help people cope with the unimaginable, providing a support system, and helping survivors with something that happened in our own backyard.
“What happened four years ago still stings. It was traumatic. It was traumatic for everyone who was there. It was traumatic for everyone who was watching it on the news after it happened. It was traumatic for our community,” says White.
White says 70 percent of the population has experienced a traumatic event in some way.
“We can’t treat trauma, but we can help with the symptoms someone experiences from the trauma,” says White.
Working with CitiLookout’s Trauma Recovery Center formed in Springfield in 2017, they’ve built a partnership.
“We’ve seen a lot of crime and violence and we’ve seen people not get the support they need to heal,” says Stephen Massey, the Director of Springfield’s Trauma Recovery Center. “We go to court with a lot of crime survivors who don’t know about the justice system and the process and being able to support them in that space but also find stability. We get them safety, safety plans, get them housing, get them food, clothing, shelter, and the things that they need so they can thrive and move forward on their healing journey.”
In the last year, they’ve served roughly 500 people.
“We’ve launched the Speakers Bureau, which is an opportunity for survivors of crime who are starting to heal to be able to tell their story in a public format where it’s kind of trusted space,” describes Massey.
Massey says following the Oregon District shooting, they had a lot of people reaching out.
“It’s going to be fresh for quite a while for a lot of us,” says Massey.
He knew one of the victims of the Oregon District shooting.
“People are still hyper-vigilant. There’s a lot of hypersensitivity. Also, you know how anniversaries can impact people when things come back around. Even me. It’s affected me,”admits Massey.
Experts say anything can set off trauma–from a sound, to a certain smell, to a sight. That’s why even four years later, they’re still helping people recover.
“After something traumatic like that happens, we often ask ourselves why,” says White. “The Trauma Recovery Center can provide a way to live with that why.”
With trauma, there is no timeline. It doesn’t discriminate, and recovery looks different for everyone. With incidents of violence on the rise, the center’s outreach is more important now than it’s ever been.
“It’s okay to not be okay. And we’ve heard that phrase quite a bit,” says Massey.
The centers are working to normalize trauma to let people know they’re not alone and encouraging them to seek help.
While we continue to heal from the violence that marred our city, we will never forget and continue to remember the lives lost.
To connect with CitiLookout’s Trauma Recovery Center, click here.