CHARDON -- A group from Virginia Tech came to Chardon to share their experience in healing from tragedy.
The 15 people, mostly Virginia Tech students, met throughout the day with students and staff from Chardon High School and with members of the greater Chardon community.
"We are one of 8 communities this has happened to in the last 20 years and the support, the love, the generosity, is unparalleled," said Chardon resident Tom Connick, active in the Chardon Healing Fund, which has raised about $800,000 for the current and future needs of those affected by the Chardon High School shootings of Feb. 27.
The contingent from Virginia Tech, where 32 were killed five years ago in our country's worst massacre, brought an idea called Actively Caring for People to Chardon.
It's a program which began after the 2007 massacre on the Virginia Tech campus.
Virginia Tech student Shane McCarty, who came to Chardon, explained the idea behind Actively Caring for People.
"By going beyond ourselves for others, by actively caring, that is the process by which we can heal," McCarty told WKYC.
The Virginia Tech visitors are teaming up with the Chardon Healing Fund, to sustain an environment in which people keep being compassionate, empathetic, and depending upon one other to move not only through the end of this school year, but on to the next and the next.
Virginia Tech student Sohpia Teie said she was overwhelmed by the reception they received Tuesday in Chardon, especially their private meetings with more than 80 Chardon High School students.
She told of her most moving experience today.
"I was walking down one of the hallways in the high school, breaking into tears. And a student came up to me and said, 'Are you OK? Are you OK?' It was an incredible moment."
"They realized that we could do it together," Teie said. "They're the most beautiful people in the world. They were so grateful."
A group of returning Chardon High School students have volunteered to lead the healing effort after next month's graduation with Virginia Tech students, who will return in the fall, helping to guide their steps.
"They're kids who others listen to and are trusted and are responsible and have that caring gene," offered Ellen Ondrey, of the Chardon Local Schools.
She called the meetings with Chardon staff and students "transformative," and among the most important events in Chardon's long process of healing.