I suggest that government and large corporations offer grant funding to local organizations that would stimulate a grassroots response to community disaster education and resilience. This initiative would focus on recruiting volunteers (retired, self-employed, etc.) to teach community disaster education and disaster resilience through the churches and other faith-based organizations, schools, and civic organizations in their areas.
It would be cost-effective as a “train-the-trainer” program. This would augment the services and training offered by Emergency Preparedness, the ARC, and other larger disaster response organizations whose focus is largely on response and whose manpower is limited.
In 2005 I started a nonprofit, Community in Crisis, Inc. to teach disaster education and preparedness in small, rural communities, primarily through churches. We received a grant from the BCBS Foundation of N. C. to teach Latino and Vulnerable Populations. In the last five years we’ve taught our seminars in over 50 churches in eastern N. C. However, in the last year we’ve had to dissolve due to lack of funding.
As an individual I’ve continued to teach when asked. My teaching includes a component of disaster mental health, as I am a licensed therapist and specialize in corporate crisis response and PTSD as well as being a marital therapist. I understand the long-term result when there is a lack of education in rural communities and believe that every citizen should have access to this information and learn how to help others.
My focus is strictly education in small communities and rural villages that would likely not receive much help in the event of a large disaster. We do not compete with CERT, Emergency Preparedness, or other large disaster response agencies. In fact, a component of our training is teaching about these and what they do, and how to interact with them responsibly.
My vision is to write a manual and create a set of DVD training videos specifically for churches and rural organizations. We also teach via audio recordings aired over short-wave satellite in Asia, Africa, and South America through World Harvest Radio in South Bend, Indiana.
Recently I was asked by the Methodist Conference of El Salvadore to teach my seminar to pastors there and did so this past July. I taught 40 pastors disaster mental health, counseling techniques, understanding the emotional needs of vulnerable populations, and community disaster response with limited resources. This went so well there are plans for expanding this to invite Guatemala and Honduras next year. We are seeking funding for this now. Any help or direction you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
I will be glad to help you in any way as well.
Deborah Dunn, LMFT