SHOWING SUPPORT Art supplies are available at the Gilroy Strong Resiliency Center to make “kindness cards” for the victims of mass shootings in Atlanta, Ga. and Boulder, Colo. Photo: Erik Chalhoub

The recent mass shootings in Atlanta, Ga. and Boulder, Colo. have Gilroyans reliving the tragic memories of July 28, 2019.

Gilroy residents know the pain those communities are going through right now. But, they are using that experience to help those residents cope with the tragedies.

The Gilroy Strong Resiliency Center (GSRC) is collecting “kindness cards” from residents of Gilroy and nearby areas, which will be sent to people in Atlanta and Boulder.

Sylvia Mata, program manager for the GSRC, said shortly after the 2019 shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival, Gilroy residents began receiving letters of support from other communities nationwide that have experienced a mass shooting.

“It was a powerful act of kindness,” she said. “We remember feeling very supported. We’re part of this club that we didn’t choose to be a part of.”

Now, Gilroy is paying it forward.

The GSRC is holding a workshop at its offices inside The Neon Exchange, 7365 Monterey St., on April 1 from 6-8pm, where residents can make their own cards.

Tables and art supplies will be available indoors and outdoors. Residents are also encouraged to make cards at home and drop them off at The Neon Exchange by April 2.

Once all cards are collected, the GSRC will send them to the Boulder District Attorney’s Office and the Atlanta Police Department for distribution.

The first card-making workshop held on March 25 was received positively, Mata said, and served as a cathartic experience.

“We are able to express to them there is hope, there is light at the end of the tunnel, even though it might not feel like it right now,” she said.

The GSRC, formed after the festival shooting, provides free individual and group counseling, trauma education, victim advocacy, victim compensation and information on community resources. 

GSRC, which operates on a federal grant, is run out of the victim services unit at the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

Mata said the center has recently been focusing on coping with trauma brought on by the pandemic. It is partnering with Community Solutions to host a free multi-part webinar on how to manage stress, which runs Mondays, April 12-May 3 from 6:30-7:30pm. To register, visit

The GSRC is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30-8pm. For information, visit

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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