In response to the horrific shooting in Orlando, Fla., the American Red Cross has asked Children's Disaster Services (CDS) to send a team of caregivers. Since 1980, CDS has been meeting the needs of children by setting up child care centers in shelters and disaster assistance centers across the nation. Specially trained to respond to traumatized children, volunteers provide a calm, safe, and reassuring presence in the midst of the chaos created by natural and human-caused disasters. CDS is a ministry of the Church of the Brethren and is part of Brethren Disaster Ministries.
“Our team will be serving families along with mental health and spiritual care providers,” said CDS associate director Kathleen Fry-Miller. “Our volunteers will be there to care for children as families are gathered, especially during times when adults are receiving briefings, counseling services, or doing morgue visits.
“Every organization responding was specifically asked if their volunteers would have sensitivity to the lgbt community. We reassured them that our volunteers would be very sensitive,” she added.
The CDS team going to Orlando is being led by John Kinsel, Critical Response Child Care administrator and trainer. The Critical Response Child Care program of CDS provides special training to volunteers to respond to mass casualty events in addition to the usual CDS training and certification. The Orlando team also includes CDS Gulf Coast coordinator Tina Christian, and Carol and Norm Waggy, recent Nigeria Crisis volunteers.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families directly affected by this violence, the Orlando community, and those across the country who are weeping with them,” Fry-Miller said.
She requested Brethren to “send prayers for this work.”
For more information about the ministry of Children’s Disaster Services go to www.brethren.org/cds . To offer financial support to the CDS response in Orlando, give to the Church of the Brethren’s Emergency Disaster Fund at www.brethren.org/edf .