Members of an Iowa community have banded together to support one another after the death of four local teenagers.
Dozens of Dubuque County community members met to discuss ways to cope with the tragedy, the Telegraph Herald reported. The school district invited Community Resilience Institute, a nonprofit organization, to help facilitate the community crisis recovery.
"We experienced a tragedy of unimaginable scope," Superintendent Jeff Corkery said at the meeting Tuesday night. "I've been in education some 40 years, but have experienced nothing comparable to what we experienced nearly a month ago. We've dealt with the single death of a student or staff death, but nothing like this."
The group talked about how they can accept, recover and grow from the loss.
"We needed more than the school to offer support. We knew this had to be more of a community involvement," Corkery said.
The community effort focused on establishing committees to help family members, friends, neighbors, students and school officials find healthy ways to mourn and move on.
"In wake of a tragedy, people want to do something, and you can do a lot of good to bring people together to coordinate those activities," said Mollie Marti of Community Resilience Institute. "If you give kids opportunities to volunteer and get involved — show them they do matter and that we do need them, and not just pay them lip service -- after we show them that, again and again, they will strengthen themselves."
Dawn Wilwert says she has received an outpouring of condolences and comfort since her 14-year-old son and a few of his classmates died in an accident at the beginning of August. Bryce Wilwert, Sean Kenneally, Nicholas Kramer and Mitchell Kluesner were killed when the utility vehicle they were driving was hit by a truck pulling a trailer.
"The support has been wonderful, and I can't ask for a better community to live in," Dawn Wilwert said. "It's great to have so many people backing us."