Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Faith-based & relief groups settle on spiritual care of disaster survivors

Disaster survivors to receive one standard of care
Faith-based & relief groups settle on principles

September 15, 2009 -- More than 20 faith-based organizations in the United
States for the first time have set minimum standards of care in a 10-point
document that defines how to minister emotionally and spiritually to people
in times of disaster.

"It is a true realization of their faith when Catholics, Scientologists,
Protestants, Evangelicals, Buddhists and Jews can sit down together and
define the standards of spiritual care for the benefit of disaster
survivors," said Diana Rothe-Smith, executive director of National Voluntary
Organizations Active in Disaster. Forty-nine U.S. organizations make up

"Rather than put aside their differing beliefs, they have mutually embraced
them, and this extraordinary document is the result," said Rothe-Smith.

Explicitly outlined in the set of standards are protections for survivors,
at what is often a vulnerable time. Without adequate care for those who seek
it, spiritual, emotional and psychological challenges can last well beyond
when homes or businesses are repaired.

The 10 points to the Spiritual Care Points of Consensus are:
- Basic concepts of disaster spiritual care
- Types of disaster spiritual care
- Local community resources
- Disaster emotional care and its relationship to disaster spiritual
- Disaster spiritual care in response and recovery
- Disaster emotional and spiritual care for the care giver
- Planning, preparedness, training and mitigation as spiritual care
- Disaster spiritual care in diversity
- Disaster, trauma and vulnerability
- Ethics and Standards of Care

"As significant as the adoption of these points of consensus is the
cooperation conversation that took place among these partners to form them,"
said the Rev. Kevin Massey, a current National VOAD board member. "We did
not start with consensus; rather, it was created through respectful

Working collaboratively, the members of National VOAD are the driving force
behind disaster recovery in the United States. National VOAD facilitates
cooperation among every major non-profit and faith-based disaster response
organization in the U.S. National VOAD agencies focus on all stages of
disaster -- preparedness, relief, response, recovery and mitigation. In
2008, these organizations provided more than $200 million dollars in direct
financial assistance and more than 7 million hours in volunteer labor.

For more information, contact Diana Rothe-Smith at 1-703-778-5088.

The Points of Consensus in its entirety can read here:

To learn more about National VOAD and the work of its member organizations,
or to review the Points of Consensus in its entirety, visit


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