Red Cross opens family assistance center to help those impacted by Parkland school shooting

Counseling, help with booking travel offered at center

By Erica Rakow - Reporter

PARKLAND, Fla. - The American Red Cross is offering free services for people affected by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting.

The assistance center is set-up in a community building at Pine Trails Park.

On a wall at the support center, people shared messages of love for the victims.

"You may not realize you have the need until you come in here, and you'll probably walk out of here with a lot of needs met that you didn't even realize you had," family assistance coordinator Ryan Logan said. 

At the Red Cross' family assistance center, multiple agencies, elected officials and airlines are set-up, providing resources and counseling to anyone affected in any way by the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Since Friday, more than 350 people have received support at the center, including the family of a victim who lives in Israel. They needed help, over the holiday weekend, securing travel to be at her funeral.

"They were able to work with the consulate," Logan said. "They actually had them go in over the weekend, through the State Department open up the consulate so they could work to get their visas completed and they had those done in 24 hours, and that family is actually on their way here as we speak."

A half dozen golden retrievers that are trained comfort dogs and have traveled to Parkland from various states, offer their paws and soft touch to help comfort those in need.

A navigator is also assigned to each person.

"A lot of them are already school psychologists (and) have extreme experience with trauma," Logan said.  

Uber, Airbnb, the Broward Sheriff's Office and the FBI are among the companies and agencies that are set up inside the center.

JetBlue helped booked a dozen free flights so far for loved ones of those who were killed.

The center will be open every day this week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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