Town Hall Meeting on Mass Shootings

Town Hall Meeting on Mass Shootings
September 16, 2019


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Our panelists for our Town Hall Meeting on Mass Shootings included:

Bob VandePol, LMSW, Pine Rest EAP formerly served as President of Crisis Care Network, the world’s largest provider of Crisis Response services to the workplace. He has led teams to mass violence events such as 9-11, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon, and Kalamazoo.

*difference between mental illness and mental health issues, particularly as they relate to violence and mass shootings   
Joellen Rhyndress, LMSW, Healthwest
the Psychological First Aid Specialist at HealthWest, leads a team that responds to traumatic events.  She represent Mental Health on the Executive Board for the Region 6 Healthcare coalition a 13 county emergency preparedness program.  She is a disaster mental health responder and instructor for the Red Cross. She has responded to many gun violence related deaths including the Dayton massacre.  

*Community response to mass shootings, example of Dayton massacre

Sarah Lewakowski, MA, LLP, Mosaic Counseling is the Executive Director of Mosaic Counseling (formerly TCM Counseling) Their mission is to offer hope and healing for all by providing accessible and affordable professional counseling services. They never turn anyone away.

*the impact on the mental health/wellbeing of the community when such acts occur

Gina Ramirez, MD, Pediatrician and Moms Demand Action representing the Grand Rapids chapter of Moms Demand Action.  Her expertise is in general pediatrics and gun violence prevention is something she is personally passionate about, especially as it relates to children and women. She is also a board member at Every Woman’s Place in Muskegon.  

*physician perspective on mass shootings, and introduce us to the work of Moms Demand Action 

Gabby Easterly, Spring Lake High School Student As a student, she is affected by the news of mass shootings and our response to them, including participation in mass shooting drills at school.

* She will speak to the anxiety we my be unintentionally creating in our students

Mike Rohwer, Assistant Superintendent, Ottawa Area ISD Brings broad school expertise related to how local districts across Ottawa and Allegan counties are planning/preparing for a mass shooting. He is the Assistant Superintendent at the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District and is the chairperson for the Ottawa Area Secure Schools Network 

*what are out schools doing toward prevention and how would they would respond to a shooting

Sargent Chris Koster, Ottawa County Provides active shooter training in our county and will speak to the evolving understanding and response of law enforcement to mass violence incidences

Sheriff Steve Kempker , Ottawa County Serves on the Michigan Mental Health Diversion Council in Lansing Will conclude by addressing mental health in our community, the different facets of background checks, and the Statewide response to mass violence.

Thank you to our Sponsors for believing in the power of community conversation: Ottawa County, North Ottawa Community Health System, Grand Haven Area Public Schools, and the City of Grand Haven Human Relations Commission.

And thank you to our Food Sponsors- Aldea Coffee & Just Goods Gifts & Cafe.

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It was just after the two recent mass shootings that took place at the same time this community was wrapping up another successful Coast Guard Festival that I was contacted by members of this community asking if we couldn’t please convene a conversation on these tragedies.

The total number of deadly mass shootings in the United States in 2019 comes out to an average of one every 13 days. 

Yes, we need to have this conversation.

With discussions of shooting and mental illness taking place across the nation, the Mental Illness Task Force believes it's important to clarify the difference between mental illness and mental health so there isn’t more stigma created surrounding people who struggle with legitimate mental illnesses that do not normally include expressions of violence, while also addressing the kinds of mental health issues that surround these horrific events. Arthur Evans, CEO of the American Psychological Association says that calling every mass shooting a mental health problem is "inaccurate and it's stigmatizing." Evans urges us to look at a whole host of contributing factors, including hate, bigotry and access to assault weapons.


At the same time, we have to address the fact that we do have many people struggling with mental health issues that are not getting the services they need. And we all have to manage the effects on our own mental health, our children’s mental health, and our society’s mental health as these tragedies continue to impact our sense of safety and security.

Finally, so many of us are trying to figure out what we can do. When we come together, we find strength, community, creativity and wisdom. And in that process, we also hope to find steps we can all take to creating a more peaceful and loving world.

So with that, let’s turn to our speakers. They will each have 8 to 10 minutes to speak after which we will open up the floor to questions, answers and comments.

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General Staff

Planning is the collecting of information for the preparation of the Incident Action Plan.

Logistics is the ordering, maintaining and accounting for essential personnel, equipment, and supplies.  (Someone with common knowledge of the resources available to you, ie. Food services, sheltering locations, transportation, etc.)

Finance is the keep accurate account of the records, insurance, time cards, etc. (Someone who is responsible for the execution of contracts, compensation, critical position on large events).

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Write a letter to your members of Congress (or to the school or local newspaper) that conveys your position about gun violence and what you think should be done about it.  Educate others about this topic by sharing information on social media, engaging in personal conversations or organizing an educational forum or debate in school.  Join with or hold a fundraiser to support gun violence prevention advocacy organizations such as  Newtown Action Alliance ,  Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence ,  Everytown for Gun Safety  and  Moms Demand .

Write a letter to your members of Congress (or to the school or local newspaper) that conveys your position about gun violence and what you think should be done about it.

Educate others about this topic by sharing information on social media, engaging in personal conversations or organizing an educational forum or debate in school.

Join with or hold a fundraiser to support gun violence prevention advocacy organizations such as Newtown Action Alliance, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand.






Get involved at a local level with our upcoming events.

Get involved at a local level with our upcoming events.

Special thanks once again to our Volunteers and our Sponsors for helping making this event possible, and our panelists for taking the time to be with us today. And thank you to all who came out to our Town Hall meeting to share in this important conversation.