The Resilient Community: Training Non Profit Organizations To Be At Their Best, In The Worst Times.

Apr 2, 2014

I'm Mike Smith, and today's Making A Difference Where You Live highlights a Community Foundation of the Ozarks program centered around both word, and deed.  The word, according the the Merrium Webster ap on my phone, is of Latin origin first used around 1674.  RESILIENT!  Resilient, as my digital dictionary continues, is an adjective defined as:  Tending to Recover From or Adjust Easily to Misfortune or Change.  The deed, is the Community Foundation of the Ozarks creation of and funding for a training program to teach non profit service organizations how to prepare for, recover from, and work through times of trouble:  The Resilient Community. 

Louise Knauer is Senior Vice President for Communications and Marketing with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks:  "This program has an interesting background.  In May 2011 my boss Brian Fogle and I met with a representative of a national foundation interested in talking with us about disaster resiliency and preparedness for non profits.  At the end of thet conversation we thought it really relavent because here in the Ozarks it's not a matter of if but when the next disaster will happen, and 2 days later, Joplin happened."  Joplin happened May 22nd 2011.  An EF-5 tornado with winds well over 200 mph tore throught the town.  161 persons lost their lives and over 1,200 were injured.  More than 7,000 homes and businesses were destroyed.  "Then of course we went into recovery work and it took a long time to get back to the idea of resiliency training for non profits"  When they did, the CFO secured a grant from the Margaret A Cargill Foundation to create The Resilient Community pilot program.  "And it was for 2 cohorts up to about 15 organizations that are CFO non profit partners, 1 cohort in the Springfield area and 1 in the Joplin area.  The idea was that it would include group classroom style training and then individual coaching between the sessions, so the agencies would come out with a disaster plan written, prepared  and ready to go." 

Jane Cage is a Joplin resident who works with CCFA Partners Inc..  The group serves as an advocate for communities impacted by disaster.  Cage is the Facilitator for the Resilient Community Joplin cohort:  "The agencies participating the the Resilient Community workshops cover a wide spectrum in Springfield, Joplin, Carthage and Neosho also.  The Joplin cohort includes Boys and Girls Clubs of SW Mo., Community Support Services, Lafayette House, the Carthage Crisis Center, Children's Haven, Teen Challenge of Neosho, Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland, Victory Ministry and Sports Complex, Art Feeds, The Independent Living Center, Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity, and the Joplin Workshops." 

Stephanie Brady is the Director of Programs at the Independent Living Center of Joplin:  "After the tornado, we started thinking we need to be planning better for all kind of contingencies, and whenever this program came about, it seemed the perefect opportunity to really do some of that work.  We had 65 of our consumers who lost their homes, lost everything in the tornado, and we had 7 who lost their lives.  The Resilient Community training program is helping us plan to work with staff when they are having issues following a disaster.  Planning to deal with the death of a key staff member, or legislative changes that might affect budget.  They're even talking about what to do with street closings because of a water main break near the office.  Even the small things which might affect you for 3 or 4 days, can really impact your agency moving forward."

Ryan Nicholls is the outgoing Director of Greene County Office of Emergency Management:  "When you look at devestating events such as Joplin, there's a lot of work for months, if not years to rebuild that.  The Community Foundation of the Ozarks solved the need we had because a lot of non government agencies are very critical assets to us in disaster aid and recovery.  The grant they recieved and the program they created helps build this resilience within the non profit community to be internally prepared.  It's really a strong resiliency training program that helps the community as a whole, recover from a disaster very quickly."

Louise Knauer:  "For us in the Ozarks, this emphasis on disaster recovery fits with our core (CFO) mission of asset and recource development, grant making and public leadership.  To that end, the Greene County Office of Emergencg Management has written CFO into the County Recovery Plan so in the event of a disaster, the CFO would be the lead philanthropic agency to marshall the resources and organize that sector of responce.  So that's an on going outcome of having this focus on disaster rcovery and resiliency training."

Support for The Resilient Community and Making A Difference Where You Live, comess from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.  For more information www.cfozarks.org.