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May 2011 Editor's Letter
By: Jill Hasty

This magazine is based in Birmingham, Alabama, and, as you can imagine, our area is still reeling from the April tornadoes that destroyed so many of our cities. The volunteer support from local churches has been simply amazing, from physically aiding in clean-up efforts to collecting much-needed supplies for the victims left with nothing.

I hope your church has a disaster response plan, and one important component should be spiritual preparation for volunteers.

According to the Church Disaster Mental Health Project, "Disaster response volunteers can rebuild and repair homes and replace physical losses. More important though, volunteers are challenged to meet the spiritual needs of survivors and their communities. Disaster response is ultimately a spiritual matter helping people accept their losses and positively begin life anew."

Meeting the emotional needs of both volunteers and victims should be just as big of a priority as any of your other efforts. CDMH Project advises church leaders to learn how to:

1. Identify signs and symptoms of psychological distress following disasters.

2. Provide individual and community-based disaster care and support.

3. Improve access to post-disaster mental health services.

4. Facilitate healthy self-care practices after disasters.

Finally, I urge you, if you haven't done so already, to send whatever support your church can to these areas affected by the storms. You can donate money at www.redcross.org or www.salvationarmyusa.org. If you'd like to send clothing, non-perishable food, toiletries, etc., or partner with a local church, you can contact our publisher's home church:

Christ the King Lutheran Church
Attn: Rev. Scott Hawkins
611 Riverchase Parkway West
Birmingham, AL 35244
(205) 988-5004

God Bless,
Jill Hasty
Managing Editor
jill@rpnmag.com

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