The first major gun legislation in decades, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, was passed last month. On Monday, the White House will hold a ceremony commemorating the signing, and two representatives from the Boulder community will be there standing in solidarity for those impacted by the 2021 Table Mesa King Sooper’s shooting.
Dixie Casford and Jennifer Leosz, CEOs at Mental Health Partners, which operates the Boulder Strong Resource Center, were humbled when the invitation to attend the ceremony came last week. More than a year after the shooting, the center continues to offer a spectrum of free services and support.
Casford recognizes that although it’s just the two of them who will be at the White House, there are hundreds of staff and volunteers who have supported the center’s mission since day one.
“Unfortunately, when it happened here we were told it’s a club you never want to be a part of, and there is unfortunately a playbook for how to respond,” Casford said. “Our community came forward, our partners came forward, and they let us know they were committed, and that’s how Boulder operates, and in those moments, you see it’s not just words.”
The bill not only enhances gun safety measures such as background checks, but it provides millions of dollars in dedicated funding for community violence intervention programs and expansion of community mental health services.
“Everyone processes on a different timeline, so we hope to be able to keep the center funded for years to come,” said Kristina Hernández Schostak, the public information officer for Mental Health Partners. “Sometimes it’s up to three years later that people even realize they need help. It could be what they were picking up at the store, the sound of fireworks, it could be just that it’s a Monday, and that triggers them and they decide to come in.”
Casford has never been to the White House.
“It’s going to be humbling and emotional,” Casford said. “Through the families, we got to know the 10 victims, so we’re standing there for them.
“This is for them,” Casford added as her voice cracked. “Sorry, I didn’t think it would hit me yet, but here we are.”