AURORA, Colo. (AP) — A center to help Aurora residents handle the lingering effects of last year’s mass shootings at a movie theater opened its doors Thursday.
The Aurora Strong Community Resilience Center offers one-on-one and group counseling, wellness classes, art and music classes and faith-based discussions. All the services are free, said Grace Zolnosky, the center director.
“Resilience is something that can be learned. That’s the good news,” Zolnosky said. “And it can be fostered.”
The center opened nine days before the anniversary of the July 20 attack that killed 12 people and injured 70.
James Holmes is charged with more than 160 counts of murder and attempted murder and has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His trial is scheduled to start in February.
Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.
“Last year’s tragic events left our community with a whole lot of questions and too few answers,” Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said Thursday. “About the only thing we were sure of was that the event would not forever define us as a city.”
He said people are in a constant state of recovery.
“One of the true wonders of humanity is that we can experience such tragedy, go through mourning and grief, and still move forward and find a way to start to heal,” Hogan said.
Megan Sullivan, whose older brother was killed in the shootings, runs a women’s support group at the center.
“There’s not a day or a moment that I don’t think of him,” she said, describing her brother as her first best friend. “While my big brother isn’t here to tell me to keep my chin up … he continues to guide me every single day.”
About 100 people were on hand for the opening of the center.
The center is a partnership among the city of Aurora, Aurora Mental Health Center, the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus and Aurora Parks and Recreation.
By Thomas Peipert, AP Writer (© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)