December 2nd, 2015
When I picked up my kids from school today, I was listening to the news on the radio regarding the tragedy that occurred at the Inland Regional Center. I explained what was happening to my boys who had hopped into the minivan (Andrew is 8, Timmy nearly 7). Their usual play by play of the football game at lunch recess or the tally of who “pulled a card” or “lost a star” was replaced by a stark silence. As we pulled into our driveway, we listened to the reporter explain that the shooting took place in the conference room of the Regional Center building. Andrew immediately piped up from the back seat, “Mom! That’s where we went for Genevieve’s [his 3 year old sister’s] assessment. The conference room! Were any kids in there? Are they alright?” As he spoke, I recalled having been in conference rooms at the Regional Center myself (and with my family) more than once and was shocked into the horrific reality of what happened for so many today. I explained to the kids that at this point we do not know who was murdered. Then we talked about the fact that regardless of the identity of those who lost their lives today, they mattered, their lives had tremendous value, and they are already missed.
As I watched the news throughout the day, I heard the Regional Center described in many different ways and the people who work there identified as, “workers,” “mental health employees,” “people who coordinate bus rides,” “case workers, ” etc. Having interacted with so many employees of the Regional Center of Orange County and a handful from the Inland Regional Center in the last 4 years, I wanted to take a moment to recognize the diligent effort put forth by these people who tirelessly labor on behalf of thousands of people with developmental disabilities-their consumers. I’ve had the privilege to interact with office staff, Service Coordinators, BCBAs, Intake Coordinators, and many others as both a parent of a consumer and as a vendor of ABA services in Orange County. The people I’ve worked with at the Regional Center are hard-working, professional, compassionate, thorough, patient individuals who come alongside families at the toughest of times. They take the time to get to know each consumer and their families so that they can truly help these individuals gain access to the services they would benefit from most. They take care to ensure that services aim to empower the entire family so that ultimately families are best equipped to care for their member affected by a disability.
As you hug your loved ones a little tighter today, pray for the families torn apart by yesterday’s tragedy, and otherwise process the events of the tragic shooting, take a few minutes to appreciate the work likely being resumed right now by the professionals who call the Regional Center their work home. If you personally know a particular SC, receptionist, BCBA, or anyone else working within the organization, consider dropping them a note. Encourage their work. Remind them how much we appreciate all they do for our sisters, uncles, children, friends, and clients. We are all in this together.