Following the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, the city’s Emergency Manager increased the size of the space allocated for “family compassion” three times to meet the need. Survivors, victims’ family members, first responders, friends and others sought help in managing their grief and coping with their stress. This and many others such experiences, following both natural and human-caused disasters, has generated an awareness of this need and a desire to be prepared to respond.
The Florida Conference United Church of Christ will recruit and train 12 volunteers to serve as members of three-person teams that will provide emotional and spiritual care following future incidents. Each team will include one licensed Mental Health Counselor with a currently active license, one clergyperson with authorized standing in the Florida Conference UCC and a minimum of one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) or its equivalent, and one lay person with experience and skill in project management/logistics. The lay person will be responsible for making local arrangements for the team, both for living and counseling space; will engage in linking the counseling offering to the closest UCC congregation(s); and will be responsible for finances, publicity, reports and photographs. Additional information on requirements and qualifications for each position can be found here.
Our emotional and spiritual caregivers will function in compliance with the Points of Census and the Emotional and Spiritual Care Guidelines adopted by the National VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters). The availability of the four teams will be reported to the Florida VOAD, the Florida State Emergency Department’s Volunteer Florida, and to the Emergency Managers of the 67 counties in Florida. Teams may be deployed in response to a request from county or state emergency management officials or from the pastor/lay leadership of a Florida Conference UCC congregation.
Persons interested in participating are invited to download the application form and submit it to Florida Conference Disaster Ministry Coordinator Bill Wealand. Applicants will be interviewed in person or by internet. A three-day training and preparation session is being planned for July 18-20 in the Daytona Beach area.
God is still speaking