Many of you are aware that the 2017 hurricane season has been a particularly active one. Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast area of Texas the last weekend in August. Once the flood waters had receded, it was clear that many, many homes had been flooded. I began to volunteer in the Disaster Distribution center at our home church, The Woodlands UMC. One of my roles was to greet my "client" after they completed an intake form that indicated what they needed our team to help them with. My coaching skills came into play as I listened to their story, acknowledged them and the loss they were suffering, and then accompanied them to our distribution center (DC) where they could select the items they needed to try to restore some sense of normality to their lives. I was able to personally help approximately 35 households. Our church puts the total team effort at 1,900 households.
At our core as human beings, I re-learned that we have so much more in common than we may think. In the self as coach category, I needed to maintain a coaching presence and empathetic stance in the face of human disaster. I needed somatic awareness to be empathetic. For example, I had to pick up on cues like a young mom who had "shopped" for cleaning supplies, clothes, and food for her family. She needed diapers more than anything else we had in the DC. We were out of the size she needed. Fortunately, I could give her a gift card to buy the diapers. I needed to be fully in touch with a wide range of feelings that were being spoken and demonstrated by my clients and in touch with my own feelings so that I could practice self-care when I left the DC. ( At the end of each day, there were lots of tears involved for me and I had to deal with survivors guilt since we personally did not flood.)
— Andrea Gallien (10/09/2017)