Santa Fe garden created to aid shooting survivors seeking donations

SANTA FE, Texas (KTRK) -- Painted on Santa Fe City Hall, a mural serves as a reminder of the May 18 attack, but directly behind the building, there's a place that could one day help survivors cope with the trauma.

Mandy Jordan leads the nonprofit Keep Santa Fe Beautiful. Jordan's working to turn the greenspace behind City Hall into a therapeutic garden, and as the mother of a Santa Fe student, she knows how useful it could be to the entire community.

"During the holidays I wanted to lock myself away and that's not good," said Jordan. "Getting outside, feeling the sunshine, being around others, and having that group therapy is actually very beneficial to our emotional health."

Dozens of people from across the country came to Santa Fe in October to help start the work on the garden.

"You try to move on, you want to move on with your life, but this is a positive thing to help everyone in the community as the years go by," said Santa Fe survivor Flo Rice, shot five times in the attack.

But there's still a lot to be done, and a lot of money needed to do it.

"Whenever I look at nature, I think of God and how beautiful everything is that He gave to us and how, even in pain, there's still beauty," said Santa Fe grad Annabelle O'Day. "And so I think it would be really beneficial to have something like this to go to."

Jordan is hoping donations could help put in trails, a sensory garden, and meditation spots for solitary reflection.

"It's beauty and it's something that I think would bring joy to anybody who would come here and visit," said Steve Perkins, whose wife Ann was killed in the shooting.

He says he's tried to stay busy and concentrate on his work since her death.

"But it is still a very hard thing to do: to wake up and you're in a house with nobody there," said Perkins. "You still keep thinking 'It's a bad dream' and it's not and you just have to keep moving forward."

And he thinks the future garden, not far from his home, could help him do that.

"After May, our community came together a lot but we really need something to show that we are healing and a place to go and heal," said Jordan.

Keep Santa Fe Beautiful needs to raise nearly $200,000 to complete the garden. You can email Mandy Jordan at mjordan@keepsantafetxbeautiful.org if you would like to donate.

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