Jewish Family Service: HEART OF THE MATTER

On March 27th, I was at an assisted living facility close to Covenant school when the Covenant School shooting occurred. The building went on lockdown and there was nothing to do but watch the emergency vehicles speed past and wait for news. I felt helpless.

As the week went on, I spoke to many individuals, families, and teachers. Most expressed hatred towards the shooter and rightfully so. But I kept asking myself the question, “Why did she chose to target a former school she attended so long ago?” As of this writing, we still don’t know the answer, but one thought keeps coming back to me. As a social worker, I see a lot of people with emotional wounds inflicted by life circumstances or by other people. These wounds are not visible to the naked eye and without the proper attention any wound requires, they can stay deep and painful even after many years and is possible in the case of the Covenant School aggressor.

Just be kind sounds so cliche but it’s true. You never know what path someone else has walked or what they are currently carrying emotionally. Being kind not only does not add to their wound, but it can make it lighter. A simple smile can change someone’s day. If you have something negative to say, keep it to yourself. Voicing opposition to someone’s gender identity, religion or political beliefs is not helpful or productive. In most circumstances, everyone will be just fine without hearing your negative thoughts and opinions. So, let’s be kind every day with everyone and take a moment to consider how the words we want to say will make the other person feel.

Healthy dialogue is always encouraged. My hope is that everyone would take the time to listen and understand where others are coming from and allow others to be themselves without judgement.

I would also encourage anyone who is experiencing emotional distress, whether it be from a recent event or years ago, to share your feelings with someone. Start with a trusted friend or family member and seek out professional services if you do not feel better. Feelings are neither right nor wrong, it’s what you do with them that’s right or wrong.

If you are experiencing emotional distress, you can contact Jewish Family Service at 615-356-4234 to speak with a licensed counselor to explore services.


Jewish Family Service is an independent 501(C)(3) agency that provides an array of services that include counseling, adoption, financial assistance, educational programming, support groups, children's programs and senior programs. They serve all ages and have programs and services for everyone. If you have a need or a question, contact Toni Jacobsen at 615-354-1672 or Ashley Franklin at 615-354-1662. We are always happy to hear community members.

Toni Jacobsen, ICSW is a licensed clinical social worker and serves as the Clinical Director of the agency. You can reach Toni at or 615-354-1672


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