Building Community Resiliency and Healing: Preparing for, Responding to, and Recovering From Community Trauma and Disasters
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- Margaret Upchurch, CPRSP, is a survivor of Superstorm Sandy and a Certified Peer Recovery Support Practitioner (CPRSP) and Certified Wellness Coach for older adults at the Mental Health Association of New Jersey where she volunteers at the Journey to Wellness Center.
- Marcie Roth, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Director of Disability Integration and Coordination, leads the Agency’s commitment to meet the access and functional needs of children and adults with disabilities in emergency and disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation.
- Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director of the National Empowerment Center, helped peers in Louisiana respond to the emotional crises following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and, based on his post-Katrina experiences, helped develop Emotional CPR (eCPR).
- Willie Barney, Founder, President, and Facilitator of the Empowerment Network, is leading efforts in Omaha, NE to address gun violence as a public health problem through immediate response activities, ongoing recovery, survivor empowerment, and their recent adoption of eCPR .
When a community experiences a disaster or other traumatic event—whether it is a hurricane, flash flood, school shooting, widespread community violence, or terrorist event—no one is left untouched. Typically, people initially respond to these kinds of traumatic events with confusion and disbelief, followed by stress, grief, fear, anxiety, or anger. Some survivors experience more severe reactions, and, if left unresolved, these may begin to interfere with daily functioning and may develop into more ongoing problems. Fortunately, most survivors demonstrate natural resilience. Many factors seem to influence resilience and help in the healing and recovery process. Key among these are a personal wellness attitude, flexible coping skills, strong support systems, and an effective and caring emergency response.
Building community resilience and healing requires us to look through a culturally attuned lens at the needs of all community members, including those with mental health problems and other disabilities whose needs too often are overlooked in planning for, responding to, and recovering from disasters or traumatic events. While people with lived experience of mental health, addictions, and trauma can be vulnerable to experiencing a downward spiral following a disaster or other traumatic event, they also can use their lived experiences and personal recovery as a source of understanding and strength that enables them to contribute meaningfully to community resilience and rebuilding efforts. By actively engaging people with the lived experience of mental health and/or addictions recovery in providing peer support following a disaster, a community not only provides much-needed relief to those who experienced the trauma, but also provides the peer helper opportunities for healing and recovery. Training peers to support each other can empower the entire community to be active agents in the planning, response, and recovery process. Communities and governments that work together to involve all community members in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery can lay a stronger foundation for hope and healing following traumatic events.
During this webinar, you will hear four speakers describe how communities can work together before, during, and after disasters or other traumatic events to build resilience and encourage personal and community healing. You'll hear the inspiring story of one survivor whose home was destroyed by Superstorm Sandy and how she, despite her own personal challenges, worked tirelessly assisting fellow displaced community members in getting back on their feet. You'll learn about Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) initiatives that help those with mental health problems and other disabilities prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters, including how FEMA continues to support peers in New Jersey in helping others recover. You'll learn about the valuable leadership role peers played in post-Hurricane Katrina community healing efforts and about the development of Emotional CPR (eCPR), a simple yet powerful community-building tool that teaches people how to support each other through emotional crisis. And you'll hear how the community leaders of Omaha, NE, are addressing gun violence as a public health problem through immediate response activities, ongoing recovery, survivor empowerment, and their recent adoption of eCPR, which is being used to strengthen the community's ability to respond to traumatic events.
We invite you to join us as these inspiring and committed leaders share their promising practices and stories of engagement, empowerment, and healing.
- Learn about promising practices that engage the whole community, including mental health consumers/survivors and those with disabilities, in disaster preparedness and response activities.
- Learn about the valuable role peers can play in building community resilience and promoting healing after a disaster.
- Learn how FEMA is helping individuals and communities address mental health needs and other disabilities before, during, and after disasters.
- Learn how eCPR can be used for emotional support and community building following disasters and individual or community crises.
- Learn how one community is successfully addressing and reducing widespread violence through collaborative community-building efforts.
- People and families who have experienced trauma
- People in recovery from mental health, substance use, and trauma-related challenges
- Peer-run organizations
- Community members interested in supporting others after a traumatic event
- Mental health and substance use treatment service providers
- Healthcare providers
- Staff and volunteers of faith-based and community-based organizations that support individuals and families recovering from trauma
- Federal, State, and local emergency management staff, policy makers, and community leaders
Margaret Upchurch, CPRSP, is a Certified Peer Recovery Support Practitioner (CPRSP) and Certified Wellness Coach for older adults at the Mental Health Association of New Jersey where she volunteers at the Journey to Wellness Center. For more than 30 years, Ms. Upchurch worked as a businesswoman, running a customer service department where she managed 20+ employees. Then, 4 years ago at the age of 48, she began experiencing serious mental health challenges. Two years ago, Ms. Upchurch became homeless and was hospitalized in a local psychiatric hospital. It was through outreach by peer support volunteers from Journey to Wellness, who visited her in the hospital and restored a sense of hope, that Ms. Upchurch was able to start rebuilding her life. Ms. Upchurch went through core training and wellness coach training with Peggy Swarbrick at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and now volunteers at Journey to Wellness—a self-help center located in Toms River, NJ, where she provides peer-to-peer support to consumers with mental health and/or addiction issues through mutuality, one-on-one counseling, wellness groups, and advocacy. As a result of Superstorm Sandy, Ms. Upchurch’s home was destroyed. Despite her own personal challenges, she worked tirelessly assisting fellow displaced community members in getting their medications, transporting them to medical and mental health appointments, and assisting them in finding replacement housing. She continues, together with others in her community, through determination, perseverance, and mutual support, to again begin rebuilding her life.
Marcie Roth is the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Director of Disability Integration and Coordination. Ms. Roth was appointed by President Obama in June 2009 to be the Senior Advisor on Disability Issues for FEMA. Once at FEMA, she developed the new Office of Disability Integration and Coordination, where she now serves as Director. In this role, she leads the Agency’s commitment to meet the access and functional needs of children and adults with disabilities in emergency
and disaster preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. Previously, Ms. Roth was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Global Disability Solutions Group, a leading national organization promoting diverse workforce initiatives with a focus on disability issues. Ms. Roth served as a senior member of the Obama for America Disability Policy Committee and served on President Obama’s Justice and Civil Rights Transition Team. Over the past 20 years, Ms. Roth has held leadership positions with the National Coalition for Disability Rights; National Spinal Cord Injury Association; National Council on Independent Living; and TASH, the national disability rights organization. She is known for her work in developing and managing effective coalitions to advance public policy initiatives, and is frequently consulted as an expert on strategic approaches that fully integrate preparedness, response, and recovery solutions. Ms. Roth led private sector response to the additional needs of survivors with disabilities during and after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and she was commended by the White House for her efforts on behalf of New Yorkers with disabilities in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks. In addition to her own personal experience with disability, Ms. Roth is the parent of two children with disabilities, both on their way to achieving independence.
Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., is the Founder and Executive Director of the National Empowerment Center, a peer-run organization dedicated to promoting recovery and wellness of people with mental health issues by inspiring hope, teaching peer support, and engaging persons with lived experience in policy development. Dr. Fisher obtained a Ph.D. in biochemistry, to discover the possible chemical basis of mental health issues. While carrying out neurochemical research at the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Fisher was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He recovered by building meaningful relationships. He found a biochemical explanation of behavior too alienating and to humanize the mental health system, he obtained an M.D. at George Washington Medical School and completed psychiatric training at Harvard University. Dr. Fisher worked for 25 years as a community psychiatrist at a mental health center, founded the National Empowerment Center, has been a member of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, and helped organize the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery. He has given more than 1,000 speeches and workshops on recovery and peer support across the United States and in 12 different countries. He is on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Department of Psychiatry, where he is helping to adapt Open Dialogue to the United States. Dr. Fisher helped peers in Louisiana respond to the emotional crises following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Based on his post-Katrina experiences, he helped develop eCPR.
Willie Barney is the Founder, President, and Facilitator of the Empowerment Network, a united group of residents, leaders, and organizations working to facilitate positive change in their community. Launched in September 2006, the Network works collectively to improve the quality of life for African Americans, North Omaha, and the Greater Omaha area. The goal of the Empowerment Network is to transform Omaha into a great city, thriving and prosperous, in every zip code, where citizens are actively engaged and have full access to employment and entrepreneurial opportunities; world-class education; high-quality, mixed-income housing options; and support services to build strong and healthy families. For more than 22 years Mr. Barney has worked in media, strategic planning, marketing, advertising, communications, community building, and facilitation. He is President of SMB Enterprises, LLC, a company that provides positive events, media, and entertainment in the greater Omaha area. SMB is the parent company of Revive! Omaha Magazine and Revive! Twin Cities Magazine. He is also President of WDB Resultants, LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in strategic planning and marketing, communications, community organizing, and facilitation. His experience includes work with corporate, nonprofit, and faith-based organizations. He has been an active volunteer and actively involved in his church. Mr. Barney graduated with a double major in economics and business administration from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, IA. A strong supporter of lifelong learning, he has continued his education through advanced leadership training, including the Summer Leadership Institute for Community Development at Harvard University and Executive Leadership and Management Training at the Northwestern University Media Center in Chicago. Mr. Barney’s focus, passion, and purpose is working together with others to see the community and each person reach their full potential.