July 5, 2023

By Pablo Alvarez
Josselyn Board of Directors Chair, Highland Park High School Counselor

For many families across the country, July 4th represents a time to come together socially at backyard barbecues, attend a local parade, and enjoy fireworks displays to celebrate our country’s founding. But in Highland Park and Highwood, our community gathered in unity and remembrance of the tragedy that changed our lives forever.

July 5, 2023

By Pablo Alvarez
Josselyn Board of Directors Chair, Highland Park High School Counselor

For many families across the country, July 4th represents a time to come together socially at backyard barbecues, attend a local parade, and enjoy fireworks displays to celebrate our country’s founding. But in Highland Park and Highwood, our community gathered in unity and remembrance of the tragedy that changed our lives forever.

It’s hard to believe that we have reached the first anniversary of the Highland Park shooting. But after last year, this parade is a stark reminder of the pain, grief, and trauma that took place one year ago that robbed the lives of seven wonderful human beings, physically injured 47 parade-goers, and emotionally scarred our entire community.

Marching in the parade alongside our Moraine Township supervisor, fellow trustees, and volunteers carrying our banner with one hand while taking pictures with the other, July 4th was an incredibly traumatic event that continues to haunt me. From one second to the next, joyful smiles and cheers turned to fear and chaos. And being so close to the entire ordeal is painful and personal as some of the victims and those injured were very close to me.  They were my neighbors, students and their families, and friends. But regardless if one was at the parade, at home, or enjoying July 4th festivities elsewhere, our entire community was traumatized. But we are healing. 

I am incredibly grateful to Susan Resko, CEO and President at Josselyn and her amazing team, who took my panicked calls in the aftermath and mobilized a team of counselors and therapists to assist those in need of counseling support at the Family Assistance Center at Highland Park High School. Along with other agencies, therapists at Josselyn provided much needed solace, support, and the soothe needed to begin their healing. They worked with families of victims and immediately responded to my referrals to those seeking support. The tragedy did not discriminate among the parade-goers and Susan ensured that much needed bilingual and bicultural therapists were ready to work with Latino families to process their pain and trauma in their language. Josselyn supported our community with desperately needed resources.

I became the chair of the Josselyn Board of Directors on July 1, 2023.  I am extremely proud to be associated with Josselyn, an incredible organization that is responsive and compassionate with any client but especially during this unthinkable time. I am honored to help lead Josselyn, an organization that continues to expand with our recent merger with Family Services of Lake County allowing for additional services to be available in Highland Park. Having Josselyn also present in Waukegan, Northfield, and Northbrook, therapists are serving thousands of clients throughout Cook and Lake counties providing that same responsive, compassionate support like they did in the aftermath of July 4th.

One year later, we honor the lives that were tragically lost.  We stand in solidarity to support those in trauma to heal. And we hope that tragedies like this come to an end so that no community experiences this same trauma and pain. Our country needs to do better.

Highland Park Remembrance Ceremony and Community Walk

Josselyn is proud to be a partner agency to the City of Highland Park.

Josselyn staff and volunteers helped to support attendees of the “We are Highland Park” ceremony and community walk on Tuesday to mark the one-year remembrance of the shooting.

Highland Park Remembrance Ceremony and Community Walk

Josselyn is proud to be a partner agency to the City of Highland Park.

Josselyn staff and volunteers helped to support attendees of the “We are Highland Park” ceremony and community walk on Tuesday to mark the one-year remembrance of the shooting.

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