#CommunityResilience: Enrique Davila, Administrator of Child Crisis Center of El Paso

How have these tragedies in the past month affected your communities and the children, youth and families that you serve?

The unfortunate incident that occurred August 3rd 2019 resulted in 22 lives being lost, but the surreal event went beyond the lost lives. Families, friends and residents were left in a state of shock with many unanswered questions about an incident in a City where such stories of mass shootings occurred elsewhere but not in El Paso, Texas. This event left many children, youth and families scarred for life. Individuals that witnessed the blood and carnage will need assistance/counseling to get their lives back on track. Panic and anxiety took over people’s lives causing them to withdraw a bit. The streets and stores appeared more empty the days after the tragedy. El Paso is a community where everyone knows everyone and is connected in one way or another. This event had a major impact on everyone.

What is your story? 

As the Administrator of the Child Crisis Center, I saw how this event affected employees who knew some of the families that were directly affected. We staffed calls at the Center from citizens inquiring about counseling services for people that were involved.

From a personal perspective, it was more of a reality check as I am a retired police officer. As a police officer, one enters scenes/private and public locations expecting the unexpected. After retirement, there was a semi return to normalcy as some of the experiences will never let you be normal again. The day after the shooting, I had to go grocery shopping and I felt that uneasy feeling all over again. Looking at all shoppers, some on high alert and others oblivious, for clues to determine their threat level. It’s an uneasy feeling.  I spoke to officers that were the first ones to arrive at the scene and saw how it affected them. Family members that are in the medical field expressed the sorrow they felt in treating the victims as they arrived to the emergency rooms. Everyone was affected by the tragedy.

What does community resilience mean to you, your staff and the population you serve at this time and moving forward? In efforts to continue to tirelessly serve your children youth and families after such horrific events, has resilience taken on a new meaning? 

Resilience is the capacity to quickly recover from a difficult situation and El Paso is a true depiction of this. El Paso was united through this tragedy that was fueled by one persons hatred towards an ethnicity. People raised funds to be allocated to the families and victims. The state of shock became a state of awareness. People that only cared about themselves at one time are now seeking to help others. Challenges to help others have filled social media and spun into something positive.

What words of encouragement would you like to share with your fellow leaders in child welfare across Texas, especially in the wake of these tragedies?

Regardless of the obstacles and differences that might separate a community, in the wake of a tragedy, human compassion will prevail and unify everyone’s efforts. #ElPasoStrong