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An Introduction To STEP Up Texas

An Introduction to STEP Up Texas

Providing Listening Circles for the Community of Uvalde

Ever since the massacre of 19 beautiful children and two teachers in Uvalde on May 24, I have been struggling with my emotions. My heart beats a little faster every time I hear a police siren, tears well up every time I see the mural of Irma and Joe Garcia (a former student of mine), anger rises in me whenever I see the leader of the Texas Department of Public Safety pointing out all the mistakes made but scarcely mentioning his agency’s performance.

The good news is I know I am not alone in this struggle. And, to that end, I accepted an invitation last week to attend an event sponsored by STEP UP Texas, a non-profit project being coordinated by the University of Texas at Austin.

A former Uvaldean, Monica Martinez, who is now a professor at UT, invited me to take part in one of the project’s “listening circles”. Rev. Mike Marsh and his wife Cyndy joined me in attending a session held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

None of us knew exactly what to expect. The stated goal of the listening circles is “to provide space for the Uvalde community to share experiences, process together and voice concerns.” And, with the help of a knowledgeable staff of counselors, the Marshes and I, along with four other Uvaldeans, did just that.

Being able to share my experience and listen to others share theirs. To hear everyone’s concerns voiced emotionally but calmly. It was a moving and very helpful experience for me.

STEP UP Texas will continue coming to Uvalde to conduct more listening circles on Sept. 2, Sept. 9 and Sept. 16. St. Philip’s would be willing to host one of these sessions if there is interest among our congregation.

Please consider attending one of these sessions. We have a long road ahead of us in dealing with our shared tragedy. Travelling that road together will make the journey easier and hopefully help us come up with ideas to make our beloved community stronger than ever.

STEP UP Texas is committed to supporting Uvalde for at least two years. All we have to do is find time to participate. For more information, contact Mike or Cyndy.

Yours in Christ,

Willie Edwards

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