In the hours, days and months following the mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in July 2019, the Gilroy foundation sprang into action, raising over a million dollars to help those affected by the tragedy.
There were countless fundraisers – lemonade stands, profits from sales – raising a total of $1.9 million.
“We expected it from Gilroy because we know Gilroy and what a tight community we are, but people from all over the nation were sending us money, sending us checks,” said Donna Pray, Executive Director of the Gilroy Foundation.
Now, with the foundation’s work to help local victims winding down, the focus is on a guidebook that its creators hope won’t ever need to be used: a book aimed at helping the next city after the next shooting or tragedy.
“We hope it will let you know what we wish we had known,” Pray said.
“Lessons Learned,” the book's working title, tells the reader what to do in the event of a tragedy, including how to collect donations, form an oversight committee, coordinate with other victim services, find out how the community wants the money spent and set up online applications.
“I would have loved if somebody gave me this for our committee and said, ‘okay, this is what you do,’” Pray said.
Karen Lacorte, a Gilroy Victims Relief Fund Committee member, said that another key aspect to running a successful victim relief operation is documentation.
“Very important for other communities to document everything,” she said. “Document, document, document. Meeting notes were taken at every meeting. Every victim was discussed with every application.”
The committee hopes that the book can help any other town that might fall victim, while also helping to heal themselves.
“I’m glad we’re doing this, we needed to do it, and maybe it’s healing for us as well,” Pray said.