ABC 6 News Exclusive: Yammy Bear helping Uvalde heal

(ABC 6 News) – Yammy Bear and Family visited Amistad Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Uvalde, Texas Wednesday to dance with residents and hand out stuffed bears.

For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, residents were laughing and dancing together.

Because the residents can’t leave, they said they feel isolated from the rest of the community in their grief following the shooting at Robb Elementary.

Residents at Amistad said they immediately thought of their own families outside the nursing home when they heard about the shooting in May.

“It seems like when there’s one shooting, there’s more than one, and so I immediately got scared. I got worried because I thought I could lose my family,” Carolyn Ellison, one of the residents, said.

“I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Belinda Vasquez, Amistad’s activities director, said.

Vasquez also works at the funeral home used by many of the victims’ families.

She said even though she has seen indescribable grief, her goal is to help residents at the nursing home move forward and heal.

“It’s my calling, and it’s my responsibility to be here,” Vasquez said.

But it’s not just the residents who need healing.

Cristina Arizmendi is the administrator at Amistad. Her cousin is Eva Mirales, the fourth grade teacher killed in the shooting. Arizmendi also spoke of a calling.

“I have a purpose in life, I feel like. And being here, with them, even helping them mourn and get through it, helps me get through things,” she said.

But she wants people to know, it’s going to take a while, and Uvalde will need long-term support.

“It’s going to be a long time. It’s going to take a very long time for us to be able to get through this as a community,” Arizmendi said.

She also said looking for the lighthearted people like Yammy Bear will help with that journey.

“I could feel the energy even to my office. I was over there dancing, and I haven’t, you know, I probably haven’t danced since the tragedy, so that was huge,” Arizmendi said.

Vasquez and Arizmendi hope this event with Yammy Bear can lead to more events, more visitors and more fun in the future.

“They needed that uplifting. They needed someone to come and tell them that it’s gonna be okay,” Vasquez said.

And Yammy Bear was happy to do it.