Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Eye of the Storm

I recently returned from an annual meeting in St. Louis, MO, with many of the NASW Chapter Executive Directors from around the country. We brainstorm ideas about how to bring excellent service to our respective Chapter members, how to influence public policy that impacts our members, the profession of social work and the clients and communities that we serve.

One of the moving reports came from my colleague, Walter Kalman, who is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Chapter. Walter shared with us how he and his staff responded to hundreds of calls for help, along with calls volunteering to help, from his members and others around the country. People were highly mobilized to come to New Jersey to ‘Do Something’ in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Beyond some of the heart wrenching stories he shared, he made an exquisite appeal to us, his colleagues, to ‘do the work of preparation’ and commit ourselves to be ready for any future disaster and train now, to mobilize our members to get this training, and to direct our members to the resources in our communities and in our nation that will need the talent, skills, and muscle power that professional social workers can provide.

Toward this end, the Massachusetts Chapter is adapting a wonderful manual that the New Jersey Chapter developed, to the social work community in Massachusetts. We expect the manual to be completed by the first of the year and to be a comprehensive resource to our members who want to participate in any disaster recovery efforts from hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, fires, dust storms, to human motivated disasters like the attacks on the twin towers.

Please watch the Chapter’s website and FOCUS for the release of this important document. If you want to get a head start on getting trained, contact your local Red Cross to find out when the next Disaster Mental Health Training program is scheduled.

The Red Cross is waiting for us.

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