By Sanika Dange – WUFT-FM
As the search for UF freshman Christian Aguilar approaches the two-week mark, the Aguilar family isn’t giving up the search, and UF offices are ramping up efforts to provide support for those who may be affected by Aguilar’s disappearance.
Police officers, volunteers and the family have been searching the Gainesville area for Aguilar, but so far have been unsuccessful.
The Gainesville Police Department announced earlier this has been turned into a search and recover mission. But the Aguilar family is not giving up.
“So far they haven’t canceled the search,” Carlos Aguilar said. “We’re going to stay over here as long as we can with the people that are coming. We’ve been planning already for Monday and Tuesday of next week.”
Aguilar said he wishes the Gainesville community would come out in larger numbers.
Meanwhile, University of Florida’s Crisis and Emergency Resource Center is preparing its counselors to best help those affected by the 18-year-old’s disappearance.
“The search is ongoing, so many folks who are likely impacted by this are still very much involved in the ongoing search,” said Sarah Nash, assistant coordinator for the center. “As things unfold, we are certainly looking ahead towards how to most be a value.”
Nash said the center is looking for ways to expand its reach on campus such as going into classrooms or holding group sessions at designated locations.
“Since the first night that we became aware of this — which was the first night anyone became aware of it — we have been communicating daily about how to best serve our students and address the needs that are arising,” she said.
Megan Sixby, associate director for the crisis and emergency resource center, said the office is communicating with other departments on campus to evaluate what type of counseling is necessary.
“We’ve also been talking about if we need to hold some additional kind of informal meetings,” she said.
Sixby said it is possible that counseling resources may not be needed because of the support Christian’s family and friends are giving one another.
“There has just been a lot of support and that really speaks to how when things become difficult people really pull together and unite,” she said. “I think the strength and the resilience in our campus community and our community at large has really been seen as well as with Christian’s family and his friends from down south.”
Volunteers or people interested in donating any food, water, or first aid supplies for the search can visit the Florida Farm Bureau from 9 to 5 every day.
Emily Miller edited this story online.