Sheltering Churches/Schools to Become New Way to Serve Communities
School serves as shelter for those displaced by a natural disaster. Photo by iStock/eyecrave
In an effort to further serve our communities, Rocky Mountain Conference Adventist Community Service director Cathy Kissner recently procured an agreement with the Red Cross that would allow qualifying churches and schools to be designated as shelters for anyone in the community impacted by a natural disaster (tornado, hurricane, tsunami, fire) or by other incidents (intruder, shooting, etc.). These shelters would be used when localized shelter operations are unfeasible, or when sheltering activities are consuming resources that might otherwise be dedicated to recovery operations.
“One of the primary concerns for us is whether the Red Cross would allow someone from our ‘agency’ to be present when the shelter is open so that they don’t violate our standards,” commented Cathy. “[For instance], we don’t want people sleeping in the sanctuary, smoking, drinking alcohol, or serving pork. We would, however, welcome people using our sanctuary as a prayer chapel. Those are the kind of things our people must be trained in.”
Conference-owned facilities that would like to be considered as a sheltering facility and whose facility meets the necessary standards will be invited to become part of this agreement when plans are solidified.
Still at the early stages of planning, a sheltering facility would have to meet ADA requirements — they must have showers, be able to serve food and have cots in separate rooms for family units, single women, and single men. Those in need of sheltering would be routed to a shelter through the local jurisdictional authority.
After the Las Vegas, Nevada, shooting during the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert last October, some Adventist pastors who wanted to aid the victims were turned away because they didn’t have the credentials needed. Cathy wants to remedy that by providing spiritual care training so that pastors can be certified. Besides the training, pastors or others wanting to be trained would have to present a letter of recommendation and be vetted through a high-level background check.
Pastors, doctors, teachers, counselors or any layman who have been trained and understand the requirements could be considered for the Crisis Care Counselor Response Team.
According to ACS Disaster Response, after experiencing an event such as the recent hurricanes in Texas and Florida, or the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, many are traumatized and need spiritual care in a safe place. They may act in ways that would not be characteristic under normal circumstances. Caregivers must respond carefully, aware of the power of words to dishearten or to support. Raising caregivers' awareness of appropriate and inappropriate statements would be one result of training.
The training materials are nearing completion according to the committee developing resources, they are close to completion. However, "the plan can’t be implemented until its various parts are activated and people prepared," said Kissner.
— This article originally appeared in the March 9, 2018, Rocky Mountain Conference e-newsletter NewsNuggets.
kmaran Wed, 03/21/2018 - 20:30