How your support is helping our community heal from the recent fires
A note from Molly Locke, Seeds counselor in the Piner-Olivet School District in Santa Rosa
Dear Friends of Seeds,
As a school-based counselor for Seeds of Awareness, I regularly meet with students, teachers and staff. I look to build trust and rapport and eventually create space to explore feelings. Because of recent support from you and others, I have been deployed to help fire-impacted schools in the Piner-Olivet School District in Santa Rosa. The community of Schaefer Elementary, where I am currently assisting, lost upwards of 1,000 homes. They are naturally reeling from the effects of this traumatic event and deep, deep loss. It will take time and unconditional support to meet the emotional needs of the students at this school and beyond.
Many of the children I have met recently are dealing with a lot of unfamiliar emotions; many lack the verbal capacity to know why they feel this way or what to do to move on. There is a tremendous need for much more help here.
During a traumatic event, we can get stuck in a freeze, fight or flight response. This biological reaction is triggered to keep us safe and get us out of harm’s way. But if we get stuck in this state we impede emotional expression and cognitive understanding. For example, during a stressful event, our eyes inhibit the production of tears. There is no time for tears when survival is our focus, but when we start to realize we are relatively safe again, emotion starts coming to the forefront of our experience, and this can take on a ‘flooding’ effect having been held back for so long.
Essentially through our emotions we search and find balance; we try to make sense of the past events, and process our feelings which are now more readily available. As a counselor, I am here to help guide and support this process. If these emotions are not processed, the dreadful experience gets lodged in the cells as somatic (bodily) memory and can stunt our emotional and cognitive capacities to care for ourselves, our work, and one another. Counseling, therapeutic connection, and community togetherness can all help ease this, eventually integrating the pain of the past and helping rebuild a feeling of security so the person can move on, productively.
After the holiday break, students will go back to their school among the devastation in their community. Teachers will return to their classrooms and staff will walk the familiar and not-so-familiar campus grounds. As feelings arise and fall away, this will be another stage of this ongoing and trying healing process. And I will be there to support them.
Call to Action! Please help us bring more counselors to more schools in the Piner-Olivet School District. The more funds we raise, the more students, teachers and staff we can support in the year ahead.