More than 100 people attend a vigil in honor of the victims of the Oct. 25 mass shooting at Festival Plaza in Auburn on Thursday. Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald

LEWISTON — The community resilience center announced by the city this week is a good way to help people affected by last week’s mass shootings, according to the director of the Response, Recovery and Resiliency division of the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center.

Clinical psychologist Alyssa Rheingold said Thursday that many people recover from mass violence in different ways, with different levels of resiliency. Some manage their grief and anxiety on their own, while others need more outside support. People can experience disturbances to major areas of their life, including anxiety and sleep.

Those who were directly impacted by the violence or lost a loved one, along with people who have preexisting mental health struggles, few social supports or previous victims of violence, tend to struggle more than others, she said. But direct victims are not the only ones who can be impacted by the violence.

She recommends people seek social supports to combat negative mental health symptoms. She also recommends people engage in life instead of withdrawing or isolating, which can prolong fear and anxiety. She encourages people to reach out to a professional if they are struggling because they may be able to recommend more specific coping skills.

People are resilient and not everyone who experienced trauma will go on to have long-term issues, she said. Others might need additional help to overcome their trauma. Traumatic grief is a life journey and process but eventually people will find a “new normal.”

The long-term community resilience center planned for 184 Main St. was approved by the City Council this week. According to City Administrator Heather Hunter, staff of local nonprofit group Community Concepts have stepped forward to run the center, and the city is hoping other grant funds can be identified to cover overtime costs and other nonprofit services, including from Tri-County Mental Health Services.


Beverly Walker, center, is surrounded by her friends and family, her granddaughter at right, during a vigil in honor of the victims of the Oct. 25 mass shooting at Festival Plaza in Auburn on Thursday. Walker is the stepmom to Joseph Walker who was killed at Schemengees Bar & Grille in the Oct. 25 mass shooting.  Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald

The resource centers set up at the Ramada hotel on Pleasant Street and Lewiston Armory on Central Avenue are closed and services offered there will be offered at the community resilience center when it opens in a couple of weeks.

Rheingold said for some people, healing is going to be a long journey and she encourages people to have compassion for one another in the process, Rheingold said. The community should continue to acknowledge people’s ongoing struggles and continue to come together for activities and vigils to display solidarity as a way to help those struggling in the community. It can help people feel a sense of hope and connection.

She wants people to “know that there’s hope, know that there’s people there to support and that people don’t have to walk this journey by themselves,” she said.

People struggling with their mental health should visit the National Mass Violence Victimization Resource Center website at for more information. Sweetser is also offering walk-in services at its facility, 217 Main St.

For emergency services people are also being asked to call 211. Other local resources can be found at

Over time people will start to focus on the more positive aspects of life, Hunter said in an email. There is no universal way that people heal but the resiliency center will help get the city back to “the way life should be,” she said.

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