VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A group of survivors and first responders from the Virginia Beach shooting on May 31 are turning tragedy into healing through ink.
They’re getting new tattoos to cover old scars from their injuries — both physical and psychological — on May 31.
10 On Your Side has been told 30 people will be receiving tattoos.
The organization, named Artists of Israel, has given tattoos for people affected by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They’re coming together with Virginia Beach artists this weekend to help those affected by the mass shooting.
A survivor who was shot, a family grieving the loss of a father, and an official with the heartbreaking duty of helping families to identify their loved ones — these are the stories marking a new chapter this weekend.
“It’s really a wonderful thing that they’re doing by creating something beautiful from hate and something violent and something so tragic,” said Betty Ann Levin, CEO of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater.
UJFT is partnering up with Artists of Israel to give free tattoos through a program called Healing Ink.
The group of Israeli tattoo artists is skilled in covering injuries from terrorism and combat.
“Each time we do this program, we have a different reaction from someone. We learn something new, we realize just how powerful a tattoo can be, also how much people have suffered and how resilient they are to come out of it,” said Craig Dershowitz, CEO of Artists of Israel.
Dershowitz said 15 tattoo artists are donating their services for the cause. The artists worked with each recipient to create a design that is special to them.
He said it’s a moving experience.
“There’s just so much diversity of emotion and feeling that goes on that I just consider myself humbled to be around such strong people,” Dershowitz said.
Levin said more tattoo artists stepped in to help once word of the mission spread.
WAVY.com was told it’s a bittersweet moment that they’re humbled to be a part of.
“I don’t think we ever thought we’d be a community that was trying to find a way to heal like this,” Levin said. “We want to do our part, and if we can help, we’re really happy to have played any role in doing that.”
The 30 tattoo recipients were picked from a pool of dozens of applications.
Some of the tattoo designs chosen include a quote, an hourglass, a flower, and a dragonfly.