August 2017 marked the one-year anniversary of the catastrophic flood that impacted 21 southern Louisiana parishes as well as many families of Trinity Lutheran Church in Baton Rouge, Baton Rouge Lutheran School (BRLS), and Trinity Lutheran Child Development Center (TLCDC). Even after one year, some families are still not in their homes, some are still in FEMA trailers.
After a disaster, community and family resources are often stretched to the breaking point. With that knowledge, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota reached out to Trinity to provide these children with resiliency and preparedness skills in a one-week, after-school program.
On August 14-18, 2017, with a grant generously provided by Foundation for Louisiana, 36 kids in preschool through 6th grade were given an opportunity to process and share their feelings of the disaster, to play, and to heal. A team of 25 volunteers presented a structured program wherein the children were encouraged to openly share their thoughts about their traumatic experience. They were given opportunity to explore and discover their gifts and talents they might not have otherwise recognized, new was to feel safe during bad weather and other disasters, as well as different ways to help other people. As a bonus, volunteers prepared dinner for the families each evening, thus providing an environment in which the adults could meet others who were affected by the flood as well.
Highlights of the program were:
- Having pastors, DCE, principal and other staff read storybooks specifically designed to generate discussion about the flood (or perhaps other concerning events in their lives), while wrapped up in donated cozy fleece blankets, feeling secure, relaxed, and comfortable.
- Seeing the appearance of Noah and his family at camp openings and closings, giving insight into resiliency through their experiences of the biblical flood.
- Taking home items such as a backpack cleverly loaded with preparedness items that can be grabbed, should such an event occur again. Of course, they took home their much-loved fleece blankets!
Trinity, BRLS, and TLCDC are very grateful to Foundation for Louisiana and Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota/Camp Noah for their collaboration in bringing this much-needed program to our children! We would highly recommend it!