In a departure from the usual pattern, December’s most popular external link from the Facebook page wasn’t about a new program or new research or new insights into a condition our neurodiverse young people might have.
Nope – the link was about what many of us around here have ended up calling “the incident:” the December 2 tragedy at the Inland Regional Center (IRC). Here is the article: Mass Shooting at Developmental Disabilities Center.
It was very strange when, for a few days, our region was the focus of national and even international news. Most of the media’s attention was on the background of the shooters and the victims, and the heroism of our first responders. All of that is very important.
Have you wondered about how the IRC itself was impacted?
I’ve been on the IRC’s email list for a year or more. Most of their emails contain routine announcements about services, happenings, outstanding employees and consumers.
December was different.
Here is the poignant text of the first email, sent December 3, with the heading “IRC Offices are Closed:”
“Dear IRC Community,
At this time, all events at our conference center have been cancelled indefinitely.
Additionally, our offices will be closed until Monday, December 7, as we work to understand and process these tragic events.
We thank you kindly for the outpouring of support you have shown.
Sincerely, The IRC Family”
Two more emails, on Dec 5 and Dec 8, announced that the reopening had been delayed and delayed again.
This inspiring email was sent on December 9 by Lavinia Johnson, Executive Director of the IRC:
Dear Inland Regional Center community,
I am deeply touched by the outpouring of support the Inland Regional Center (IRC) has received from all around the world. It has been a source of strength for IRC and we are grateful.
We are also grateful for law enforcement at the local, state and national levels. Their dedication and courageous efforts are truly heroic. The first responders demonstrated incredible strength in the face of danger and unbelievable compassion for victims and others struggling in the aftermath of the attacks. Our community is fortunate these brave women and men have committed their lives and careers to protecting our community. This was just one example of the selflessness they bring to work every day.
I’m also grateful to the FBI, whose investigators and staff have worked tirelessly to assist our employees retrieve their cars and personal belongings and allowing them to get their lives back. Likewise, their commitment to preserving the property for investigation and care for those involved is admirable. I cannot thank them enough.
Here at IRC, we are forging ahead. Our team of more than 600 employees has rallied with unfathomable strength to begin assisting our more than 30,000 clients. We are in the process of securing a temporary location for administrative services. In the meanwhile, none of the financial services – such as payroll, vendor payments, etc. – have been interrupted. We are also providing additional equipment our staff may need that will allow them to continue attending to our consumer’ best interests. We will be coordinating access at other locations for those who do need space to effectively meet with and serve our consumers moving forward.
In the days, weeks and months ahead, our rebuilding process will continue so that effective healing can take place. I would like to recognize and commend the unity and strength of our local community in the face of adversity. If any good can come from last week’s terrible events, I hope it’s the knowledge that the greater Inland Empire community has the ability to rally and aid its neighbors in times of trouble, despite great heartache.
Thank you all.
Another email on the 16th shared how the IRC was functioning from off-site locations, how other Regional Centers were offering assistance, and that “IRC officials completed a walk-through of Buildings 1 and 2 to evaluate the damage. Repair work has begun and will be completed shortly.” The target date for reopening was January 4th (which indeed is when the IRC employees finally returned to their buildings).
A short “Season’s Greetings” email on Dec 23rd expressed gratefulness “to those who have shown us support and kindness.”
The IRC’s New Year’s greeting email could have been sent by anyone, in any year.
And today, for the first time in over a month, a “normal” informative email from the IRC showed up in my inbox.
We try to teach our young people resilience, to ask for and accept help when needed, to allow time for strong emotions like sorrow to heal, to seek calm and goodness in the midst of upsetting times. By and large, the response of the IRC and our community to “the incident” has modeled those important lessons for our young people – and for all of us.