Parade shooting increases need of Family Service counseling

  • Therapist Laura Murphy Garcia leads a group session at the Nuestro Center in Highwood. Family Service of Lake County Executive Director Nancy Sawle Knobloch said the mental health provider was "trying to quickly figure out" how to serve people after the shooting Monday at the Highland Park parade.

    Therapist Laura Murphy Garcia leads a group session at the Nuestro Center in Highwood. Family Service of Lake County Executive Director Nancy Sawle Knobloch said the mental health provider was "trying to quickly figure out" how to serve people after the shooting Monday at the Highland Park parade. Courtesy of Family Service of Lake County

 
 
Updated 7/7/2022 10:27 AM

Located a block and a half west of where a rooftop gunman killed seven people and injured dozens of others early into Highland Park's Fourth of July parade, Family Service of Lake County is absorbing unfortunate results of the tragedy.

"We've already seen a huge uptick in individuals in need of our counseling services just in the past 24 hours," said Kevin Murphy, director of development for the mental health services provider at 777 Central Ave.

 

In given week, Family Service treats a few dozen clients, Murphy said.

"We've seen the number of people we're serving double, and we expect that number to increase exponentially in the weeks to come."

To accommodate the need, the center has expanded its hours to 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m., and is also opening weekend counseling.

Clients generally schedule appointments by either calling the office at (847) 432-4981 or online at www.famservice.org.

Now the center is offering free, 30-minute, walk-in sessions.

"For the next three weeks, we're allowing people to just walk in and sit down and talk," said Family Service Executive Director Nancy Sawle Knobloch.

Founded in 1930 as the Highland Park Social Service Committee, before adding counseling and switching its name in 1949 to Family Service of Highland Park, the facility provides no-cost mental health services and offers senior and caregiver support.

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Its Nuestro Center in Highwood provides educational and social-emotional support for Latino children in kindergarten through high school, as well as families and individuals.

Family Service employs 15 full-time staff -- seven full- and part-time therapists (including two bilingual therapists), four support staff and four staff members at the Nuestro Center.

In the wake of the shooting, Knobloch said the center was "trying to quickly figure out" how to serve the many people from Highwood and Highland Park who were at the parade.

"We had to adjust and flex to meet the need of the community, and right now," she said.

It also began consultations with the City of Highland Park.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Murphy said that within two hours of the shooting Dr. Algean Garner II, Family Service's director of counseling, was coaching city and township officials in a "triage plan" to debrief employees about the traumatic episode.

"How you can have these difficult conversations," Murphy said. "Providing a lot of guidance to our civic and business partners about what happened yesterday, to try to make sense of it."

On July 6 the center was scheduled to meet with city employees who were at the event, who experienced the panicked scene and the worst it presented -- first responders such as Public Works employees, not trained to handle something like a mass shooting.

Knobloch said the next three weeks are critical for people who've gone through such trauma.

"When something like this, a crisis or trauma, occurs where there's an initial shock and then reality sets in, people need to address it pretty quickly, and that timeline is about three weeks," she said.

"A lot of people are still stunned and in shock."

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