Groups offer counseling in Spanish to survivors of Vegas shooting; focus on vendors, staff who often go unnoticed
This story has been translated and edited for clarity from its original Spanish version.
People affected by the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on Oct. 1 can receive Spanish or bilingual counseling, as well as supplies and personal hygiene items free of charge, according to community groups involved in the effort.
Aside from victims, family members and residents who live close to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, others touched by the incident could go unnoticed, according to Juan Ortega of the progressive group For Nevada’s Future.
“They are people who are often ignored and we see them with their brightly colored T-shirts — they were at the festival selling food, drinks, cleaning bathrooms, picking up trash. They live in houses near the area, and they heard the shots,” Ortega, who volunteered for the campaign, told The Nevada Independent in Spanish.
With a focus on the emotional fallout of the shooting, Behavioral Bilingual Services (BBS Counseling), DREAM Big Vegas, Mente Sana — the non-profit branch of BBS — and other organizations have formed a coalition to collect donations and support people who were affected, free of charge.
The idea to join forces came up after a call from a person who was looking for assistance in Spanish for a survivor of the shooting. Then BBS Counseling — one of the few Latino groups that is offering bilingual counseling in Las Vegas — got involved, according to Ortega.
In addition to counseling, the coalition is also offering to direct people to the police in case they need to make a statement about what they witnessed or advise them if they qualify for aid as victims of crime.
“Many of these people are not going to be able to go back to work for a long time,” Ortega said. “They are going to keep coming to get their therapy and to receive help to try and move forward after everything they lived through.”
Ortega said that people affected by the Oct. 1 shooting can receive aid regardless of their immigration status or whether they have health insurance.
BBS Counseling has offered mental health services to the community for a decade and said in a press release that it has helped about 100 people so far who were affected in some way by the shooting.
Ortega said the Spanish counseling, which is directed by licensed psychologists and is free of charge, is being offered in a group setting and is available to both children and adults.
“They are going to get help delivered directly to their hands,” Ortega said, adding that donors can be confident that their gifts will end up in the right place. “It is very sad to see that people are taking advantage of the tragedy. What we can give is not much, but it is our word. These are people who have already spent years organizing the community. These are groups that have been providing services for almost eight years.”
The coalition isn’t the only group offering counseling in the wake of the shooting. In a press release, the Red Cross of Southern Nevada indicated that their mental health professionals continue to provide assistance to victims, survivors and relatives of those killed during the mass shooting on Oct. 1.
“Spanish translators from Bank of America, among other groups, are serving as liaisons between Spanish-speaking families and Family Assistance Center workers. They’re here for any family that needs an interpreter,” said Pat Booker, a Red Cross Community Partnerships worker. “In addition to translating, they make sure there are no unmet needs.”