Three years later, staff with Vegas Strong Resiliency Center still interact daily with those affected by the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting — aided by money raised by the sale of the “Forever Strong” specialty license plate.
The plate, introduced last year on the second anniversary of the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting, allows residents to show support for those affected. Each plate purchase also raises money to help those with financial hardship tied to trauma suffered in the shooting that left 60 people dead and over 800 injured.
Through August, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles had issued 1,439 of the plates. Each plate generates $25 for the resiliency center from the initial registration and $20 from renewals.
“The money that gets donated through the license plates goes to our emergency financial assistance program,” said Tennile Pereira, resiliency center director. “Early on, it became apparent that financial issues were going to be a very big part of the work that we do at the center.”
For instance, families affected by the shooting have reached out to the center reporting that their power was about to be shut off and they needed help paying the bill.
“It allows us to plug those small emergency financial issues in people’s lives,” Pereira said. “The financial problems are really symptomatic of the underlying need for mental health services those and other things really go toward healing. But it’s hard to get someone to focus on those issues if they’re going to be evicted or if their car is going to be repossessed, or the power is going to be turned off.”
Despite the cause the plates’ proceeds help support, their popularity significantly trails other newer plates during their initial offering. For instance, the “Vegas Born” Golden Knights-themed plate saw nearly 36,000 registrations during its first 10 months of availability, and the Raiders-themed license plate had over 12,000 during its initial year.
Although the resiliency center didn’t have the exact amount it has collected from the plates, it should have collected $35,975 based on the $25 contribution for each active registration. In comparison, the Raiders specialty plate raised over $350,000 in its first year of availability, which goes toward the team’s charitable arm, the Raiders Foundation. The Golden Knights plate doesn’t feature an extra fee, as no charitable cause is tied to the plate.
Whatever the amount, that money is a welcome sight as the federal money the center receives can’t be used for personal financial reasons.
Pereira said the center is funded by a grant from the federal government’s Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program. “That money cannot be used for those (personal financial assistance) types of things,” she said.
Having the emergency financial assistance program in place has increased the volume of calls the center gets, which leads to more people receiving the help they need.
“We’ve been able to connect them with more resources that go toward healing than just the financial assistance,” Pereira said. “While we’re looking at the overall picture, we can identify other benefits that they haven’t tapped into.”
Pereira urges all Nevadans to consider registering their vehicle for a “Forever Strong” plate if they can, as it helps the clients they provide services to immensely.
“If anyone wants to know how they can help this group, please consider getting one of the plates. I have two because I believe so strongly in this program,” she said. “It’s been a really useful program and it’s helped a lot of people.”