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Resiliency center set to open in East Lansing

"Stay strong MSU" sign
Cathy Shafran
89.1 WEMU
"Stay strong MSU" sign

A resiliency center to help those feeling the effects of last year’s mass shooting at Michigan State University is scheduled to open next week.

The center is located just off campus and aims to serve the broader community, regardless of one’s ties to MSU.

It’ll be run by the crisis services agency Common Ground, which also opened a resiliency center in Oxford following a 2021 mass shooting there.

Chief Crisis Operations Officer Janet Sarkos said the East Lansing space aims to help people feel a sense of community.

“What we hope will happen is that people just come and hang out and they may not be actively be participating in an activity but talking happens when you’re comfortable, and there are people here to listen to what’s going on and I think that’s how healing happens,” Sarcos said.

The location will feature community gathering spaces and mental health support, including virtual appointments.

But Sarkos said the mission for the space goes beyond providing mental health care.

“It’s really normalizing all of the extremely strong and painful and difficult feelings that come from with experiencing a mass violence event, coming together with community and knowing that you’re going through things that are difficult but normal,” Sarkos said.

Sarkos added Common Ground has a three-year lease on its East Lansing space. But the time frame when services are offered could change, depending on the need.

State Representative Julie Brixie’s (D-Meridian Twp) district includes MSU’s campus and the Okemos School district, which experienced a swatting incident days before the MSU shooting, where emergency services were called to a false alarm.

She said the stress of the events has created a lot of interest from school districts and community members not specifically tied to MSU about the resiliency center.

“What we know from other shootings in other areas is that the aftereffects of these types of events can be very long and very widespread,” Brixie said.

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Colin Jackson is the Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network.
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