Courtesy of Gavilan College President Dr. Kathleen Rose:
This has been a somber month for our Gavilan community with the tragedy at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. I am proud of the role our college played from the moment the crisis occurred in opening our doors as a reunification center, information center, and place of recovery in the following days. Thanks especially to Kenny Rodriguez, David Farmer, Pam Chatten, Jan Bernstein Chargin and Ron Hannon for being on to service immediately on Sunday evening and to our counseling staff in the weeks since. On the Thursday after the shooting, I was invited to join a variety of leaders in downtown Gilroy at the community vigil, where several hundred people gathered to comfort and support one another.
I thought I would share with you the comments I gave at that event. It was my honor to be there as a representative of Gavilan, and a proud member of our community. I hope healing continues for you in the days ahead:
Being present with each other this evening allows our emotions to be authentic and to be in the moment of this time of community gathering. All feelings are welcomed here, including true sadness, grief, rage, admiration for the courage demonstrated, a sense of emptiness, glimmers of hope, strength in unity and more. The energy of peace that we are generating will help our emotions come to the surface and allow healing to begin.
This evening we also share a sense of being vulnerable, as if our safety will never be the same again. The dangers that we have read about and viewed on social media have become a part of our own histories and will never be erased. But I know Gilroy to be a place of strong values and where people work hard each day to build a community around the belief that strength occurs in common and uncommon places here…in the work we share together, in the ways we contribute to the lives of one another, in the many ways we give to those in need and help to build legacies through service…which is what the Garlic Festival is all about.
That legacy of service, of giving to community agencies, in scholarships to support educational institutions like Gavilan and our local school districts and more…only grows stronger each year….and that will never, ever change in Gilroy. Our values are strong, we are proud, we protect and we care….period.
In times like these, ordinary words seem shallow to provide comfort, but I did find a poem that helped me this week, that I hope will help you as well. There is powerful hope in gatherings like this, and I know you will continue to keep your arms around each other in the days ahead to remind you of the redeeming strength that you have.
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyways that’s often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.