Posted by: kathyhugs | March 3, 2008

Comfort for Northern Illinois University students

I received an email from a friend of mine in Illinois and I wanted to share her story. It gave me a great deal of comfort to know that people can reach out to care for and comfort others in a crisis. God sends regular people to share his love with others and it is wonderful to know that people answer a call for help! God Bless the families and students at Northern Illinois University.

Here is her story:

I just wanted to share with you that I had the opportunity this week to volunteer as a counselor at Northern Illinois University. I was honored to be asked and more than willing to help out as they are the university “in our backyard.” It felt especially close to home as I went there at one time and my son just graduated from NIU and had taken many classes in Cole Hall.

Every classroom both on campus and off campus had a counselor in it this week. As a matter of fact, NIU recruited 500 mental health professionals! We were to go to a class and go over what the students and faculty might be feeling following the tragedy. I gave tips on how to deal with crisis and grief. I gave students and faculty a chance to talk in a group, and offered resources for anyone who felt they needed more help. Counselors were then available for one-on-one sessions if needed.

It was an awesome effort put out by the counseling and psychology departments at NIU. They have worked tirelessly since the Valentine’s Day shootings. Mental health professionals came from Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Michigan, Indiana, and from all over the country. A team of South Carolina counselors with comfort dogs drove all through the night on Valentine’s Day to be able and visit every single dorm floor to give kids a chance to talk.

I was met with every emotion possible – fear, anger, sadness and even some folks were indifferent or nonchalant. Faculty is very upset and concerned not only for their students but for their own safety in the classroom. Naturally, if someone knew one of the students who were killed they were more upset than a student who didn’t. I met with some students who were having difficulty sleeping and were hyper vigilant; constantly looking over their own shoulders for a possible gunman. There were mothers afraid to let their children stay at NIU.

Wednesday it was announced that Cole Hall will be torn down and a new Memorial Hall will be built in its place. The building may go but the memories those students have will live with them for a long, long time.

I just thought I’d share. It strengthened my hope in the kindness of others to see how many people reached out to the NIU community.



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