Exactly one year ago 12 people were shot at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, CA. To honor the victims and survivors of the tragedy, a Healing Garden opened Thursday at Conejo Creek North Park.
Hundreds of people including survivors, family members, friends and police officers gathered at the quaint garden, just three miles from the bar where the tragedy occurred.
“It means so much to all of us that the community has grown even stronger than it already was,” survivor Cate Boone said. “I am thankful that we can still be here today living for those who can’t, and that we have such a great place to remember all of the lives that were lost.”
Boone’s friend, Mackenzie Keister, is also a survivor of the shooting. She said the healing garden brought her hope, and that a weight was lifted off her shoulders today.
One of the victims’ family members invited Dennis Guerro, founder of LOVEWINS, an organization that advocates for “random acts of kindness to change the world.” LOVEWINS reached out to several of the families who lost a loved one in the tragedy and built lasting relationships with them.
“Our goal is to be a beacon of love, hope and healing for anybody who goes through a life-changing event,” Guerro said.
The idea for a healing garden came about a few months after the tragedy. According to Thousand Oaks Deputy City Manager Gary Rogers, a group of representatives from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the Conejo Recreation and Park District and California Lutheran University suggested building the memorial at the park. Their goal was to have the garden built by the one-year anniversary of the shooting, which they managed to achieve.
“Our hope is that it is a lasting testament to the victims,” Rogers said. “It honors them. It honors those families that were most impacted by the events of that night. It’s also an event to honor the survivors.”
The Healing Garden’s design is intentional. There are 248 pavers that are designated for each of the survivors. There are also 12 granite slabs to represent those who died. Oak saplings were handed out, which represents the resilience of the Thousand Oaks community. Shimmering pieces of granite were also distributed to the guests to represent the memorial’s foundation.
“Our hope today is that the community can really demonstrate in a real meaningful way to the victims, the survivors, the first responders, and really all those that participated in the response and the events that occurred after the response,” Rogers said. “It’s to honor them.”
After the private ceremony for families, the survivors were invited to visit the memorial before it opened to the public.