By Jacqueline Koch
It’s been nearly two years since the tragic landslide struck in Snohomish County; and Crisann Brooks, director of family support for Lutheran Community Services Northwest, sees that the healing process, while different for everyone, is underway. Her organization has led the charge to provide much-needed support at the Arlington Community Resource Center, where grief counseling and casework have been essential resources for disaster-impacted residents.
“That support network has been huge for those who were affected; it has given them hope to move forward,” she said. With a $92,000 grant from the Red Cross to support staff and operations, the Center has served more than 300 people through over 1,000 visits in 18 months.
Brooks points to the ways a resource center must operate to be effective for a community that has embarked on long-term recovery. There is a need for care, reliability, consistency and a personal touch. “When you come here, you are not just a number,” she said.
The center has been a refuge for survivors, who are often coping with unexpected emotional triggers, setbacks and crises. However, Brooks noted that the signs of recovery were most evident this last holiday season, when her clients prepared and personally delivered care packages to Eastern Washington communities that were devastated by last summer’s wildfires.
“They reached out to rally around their disaster-impacted neighbors,” Brooks said. She sees this as evidence that they are moving away from simply surviving and moving back toward living life more fully.
“You can prepare for a disaster, but emotionally you can never be prepared,” Brooks said. At a time when it was needed more than ever, an important support mechanism is in place.