Companions listen to storm survivors


By Anna Bolton - abolton@aimmediamidwest.com



BEAVERCREEK — ‘Companions’ are helping storm survivors at the newly-opened Disaster Recovery Center.

The center is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day at Shaw Elementary School, 3560 Kemp Road, Beavercreek. This is a resource for any survivor in a declared county, not just Greene County.

Representatives from FEMA, U.S. Small Business Administration, Ohio Emergency Management Agency and other Ohio agencies are present at the center to explain disaster assistance programs, answer questions about written correspondence and provide literature about repairs and rebuilding to make homes more disaster resistant.

About 45 people were recently trained as companions to provide emotional support for survivors throughout the process of applying for aid.

According to Brianna Wilson, manager of marketing communication at Mental Health & Recovery Board of Clark, Greene & Madison counties, companions don’t accompany survivors as they approach representatives, but are there for them before or after they talk with the agencies.

“They can provide refreshments, help with coloring books set up for kids, and are generally just there to sit and talk with individuals about their experiences,” Wilson said.

Primarily, companions listen. A companion is present with a person through informal crisis intervention and accompanies him or her through practical issues, activities or tasks for several hours or days.

When individuals leave the center, companions ask them if their needs were met and whether they need anything else. The companion can then connect them with other resources if needed.

“It’s important because oftentimes, telling your story of why you need help can bring feelings to the surface or highlight memories that are unpleasant. Having companions there to help debrief is critical,” Wilson said.

MHRB is coordinating a scheduling system so that all individuals who are trained as companions can sign up to volunteer when they are available.

By Anna Bolton

abolton@aimmediamidwest.com

Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.

Contact Anna Bolton at 937-502-4498.