‘Remembrance tree’ is one way MCC honors victims of Orlando massacre

MCC-Penn Valley President Dr. Joe Seabrooks joined others in attaching a message to the remembrance tree honoring victims of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
MCC-Penn Valley President Dr. Joe Seabrooks joined others in attaching messages to the remembrance tree honoring victims of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

MCC-Penn Valley’s new rainbow-colored tree might look like it was designed by an art student, but it was actually created by members of Penn Valley’s facilities team.

Yvette Sweeney, Penn Valley dean of student development, said the facilities employees used branches that had blown down near the Carter Art Center.

Students and employees attached messages to the tree in the Campus Center lobby.
Students and employees attached messages to the tree in the Campus Center lobby.

The “remembrance and inclusivity tree,” honoring victims of the June 12 Orlando nightclub massacre and others affected by violence, made its debut at noon June 15 in the Campus Center lobby. Passersby were encouraged to share “a memory, emotion or statement” and then hang the message on the tree.

MCC-Penn Valley counselor Dawn Brady said there are a number of ways someone can respond to a tragedy like the Orlando shootings. “For many, just being able to acknowledge what happened is important,” she said.

The remembrance tree will stay on display for a few weeks. At its unveiling, MCC-Penn Valley’s counseling department provided handouts on managing distress in the aftermath of a shooting as well as Kansas City resources for LGBTQIA people.

Multicolored pinwheels have been placed around the campus, including in the Celebration of Life garden outside the cafeteria, to memorialize the Orlando shooting victims.

Meanwhile, at MCC-Blue River, a display case in the Education Center that had been devoted to Pride Month was turned into a memorial to the victims of the Orlando violence.

A display case at MCC-Blue River is a tribute to the Orlando shooting victims. (Click to see larger.)
A display case at MCC-Blue River is a tribute to the Orlando shooting victims. (Click to see larger.)

And at MCC-Longview, officers and members of True Colors, a club for LGBTQIA students, encouraged the college community to consider donating to an LGBTQIA group; they provided a list of worthwhile organizations. The club said in an email that they “were both shocked and horrified after learning about the devastation in Orlando” and that many students were “justifiably angry, hurt and/or confused by this event.”

Across MCC, administrators and counselors also reminded students and employees of resources such as Counseling Services, the Employee Assistance Program and information on the MCC website about how to respond in an active-shooter situation.

“Our thoughts are with the people of Orlando as well as all who have been impacted by this and other reprehensible acts of violence,” wrote MCC Chancellor Mark James in a message June 13.

More pictures from MCC-Penn Valley (click any picture to see it larger):

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