The borderline tragedy left survivors with deep emotional scars, but many of those who lost loved ones are coming together once a week for a free support group.
It's all made possible by the nonprofit Give An Hour which connects mental health professionals who volunteer an hour a week with those in need of help. The organization focuses on the importance of mental wellness in the complicated process of healing and how we can all help.
Kristina Morisette's warm smile and bubbly personality made her the perfect person to greet patrons at the door of the Borderline Bar & Grill. But Nov. 7, 2018, a gunman entered through that very same door, ending her life. Through the tears and grief of incomprehensible loss, her parents have found some solace through group therapy sessions with others who lost loved one at Borderline.
"Sometimes it might get emotional, but we always walk away knowing that we're working on going forward," Kristina's father Michael Morisette said.
The nonprofit pairs mental health professionals willing to donate services with those in need. In recent years, its free services have expanded to help those impacted by mass shootings. With the anniversary of the Borderline tragedy, the need is growing.
"It's a safe place for them to be together, to share, to talk, to process," said Kirsti Thompson, director of Give an Hour California.
Give An Hour is also focused on changing the stigma surrounding mental health, highlighting the importance of paying attention to mental and emotional wellbeing and that of others.
"We're getting a lot of requests now from people that haven't tried to access care, Thompson said. "They felt like 'Oh, I didn't need it,' but now that the one-year mark is coming up, they're really feeling the effects of it," Thompson said.
Thompson encourages people to connect with one another.
"If you see somebody that you think is having a hard time, open and up and say, 'Hey, I see you. How're you doing? How can I support you? How can I help you get through this together?'" he said.
Morisette agrees. He said it helps when people in the community reach out and let him know they're thinking of him and his family.
"Absolutely it does. You could consider it to be a trigger, like, I wasn't thinking of that and now I am. You could, but I don't. I consider it to be an honor and a pleasure when people want to interact, and they usually wind up sharing, and they usually wind up connecting. And that's never a bad thing," Morisette said.
Sometimes he reflects on how his daughter would have processed the tragedy had she been among the survivors.
"Kristina would struggle, but she would also go forward. She would live her life. She would reach out to her friends. She would engage. I know I have to do that too. It is a struggle, but I know I can't let the sadness and the loss take away anything that is still good in this life," he said.
If you're feeling anxious or stressed by the Borderline anniversary or perhaps from the fires, mental health experts say what you're feeling is normal. It is a distressing and emotional time, and it's OK to feel that and reach out for help.
Learn more about Give an Hour here.
See more coverage of the anniversary of the Borderline Bar & Grill tragedy here.