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Building a Stronger Community Through Your Support

Did you know it takes between two and four years for people impacted by trauma to reach out for help? This month’s impact story presents the journey of healing after a big trauma that affected our community. 

On August 3rd, 2019, the city of El Paso was changed forever. It started as a regular Saturday for most of us, for Mary Ehrle it was the same. She was 65 then and was present at the tragedy that changed our community forever. She was a caregiver at Sunridge Senior Living Facility and went grocery shopping during her break for her dinner, little did Mary know that instead of leaving with the ingredients she needed, she would be leaving as a completely different person.  

Mary tried to continue her regular life after the tragedy. When the pandemic hit in 2020, she was forced into retirement.  Being alone in her house made her reflect on the trauma she experienced during August 3rd. She started experiencing panic attacks, became easily triggered by loud sounds, and lived with anxiety. She knew she needed help, but she didn’t know where to start.  

During this time, she was also struggling financially, she couldn’t afford to pay her rent. She called 211, a call center for public health, for assistance. At her initial screening, they identified her as a victim directly affected by the events of August 3rd. They educated her on a program in the community, the El Paso United Family Resiliency Center (FRC), a United Way program whose sole purpose is to educate and serve as a resource to those who were directly and indirectly affected by the tragedy of August 3rd.


She was connected to an FRC navigator, who identified several barriers affecting Mary: being elderly on a low fixed income, lacking family support and had become emotionally closed off, struggling with severe fear, stress, and anxiety. The fear of leaving her home further compounded her challenges. 

The navigator quickly addressed these barriers by creating referrals to essential services, such as Emergence Health Network for health counseling via Zoom since Mary was not ready to go out of the house, the El Paso United Community Resiliency Center (CRC) for rental assistance, and the Kelly Food Bank for food support. 

Thanks to all the help provided, she found the strength to leave her home and confidently run errands, marking a substantial improvement in her overall well-being.  

“Healing can be messy, and it will be hard, but the results are beautiful.” -Mary Ehrle 


In May 2023, the FRC provided mental health kits containing a coloring book that played a crucial role in Mary's healing process. Whenever she felt anxious or triggered, she turned to this book for solace. Her current navigator then referred her to the Creative Kids program where they provide art therapy. She fell in love with art and the freedom that it gave her to express herself through different art projects. She started to build little projects on her own, including her "rocks of hope," which she painted and placed around her apartment complex as messages of kindness and love for the community. 

Thanks to your contributions, we continue to build our programs' capacity, such as the Family Resiliency Center, to assist El Pasoans, such as Mary, who need a hand in their healing journey. Learn more about how you are helping our United Way to drive impact to El Paso through the impact stories found on our website.  

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