Safehope recently opened The Resiliency Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving victims of trauma in the Harvey County area, in Newton.
Safehope Director Jan Jones, Resiliency Program Director Jennifer Tarwater and Prairie View therapist Lois Neace met with representatives from several community organizations to share details about The Resiliency Center.
The impetus for the formation of The Resiliency Center came from the response to the Feb. 25, 2016, shooting at Excel Industries in Hesston.
"Sometimes it's not an easy subject to talk about, but it's been on (people's) minds for several years now," Jones said.
While The Resiliency Center will actively seek to aid those impacted by the Excel shooting, its services will be offered free of charge to anyone looking to overcome trauma in their lives.
"Everything that we do is free, voluntary and confidential," Tarwater said.
Services provided by The Resiliency Center are free and open to all ages and include advocacy, therapy, support groups, education and training.
A 24-hour help line can be reached by calling 833-840-6004 to speak with licensed clinicians from Prairie View.
When individuals come into the center, they will meet with a Resiliency Program Advocate to determine what services they may need, including housing, finances, education or medical aid.
"We hope this will be a lifeline or bridge to many who need those services," Jones said. "Now, we can connect them with those services."
The Resiliency Center will follow the model of others around the country that were formed in response to mass shootings, but will take into account the area's unique demographic, which includes rural, elderly, disabled and Spanish-speaking residents.
"Our resiliency center is, of course, very tailored to our community and what our needs are here," Tarwater said.
After a traumatic event, those who need services may include primary persons such as victims, witnesses and first responders. Other individuals like co-workers and family members can also be affected and even those with no direct link to the trauma may be impacted by being part of the community in which it happened.
"To reduce the impact of trauma, you have to reduce the symptoms. Traumatic symptoms mess with a person's sense of who they are, their safety and their ability to control (things)," Neace said.
Symptoms of trauma often include negative thoughts, feelings and behaviors, as well as physical manifestations like panic attacks or increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Flashbacks, memory loss or nightmares are common for victims of trauma.
"A person can experience one nightmare that is so graphic and intense that they become fearful of falling asleep and they will do everything to try to stay awake," Neace said.
Immediate emotional responses to trauma can include disbelief, shock and denial and then, over months and years, bring feelings of anger, sadness, despair, anxiety and depression. Victims may have difficulty trusting people, hate themselves for not being able to stop the trauma or for not being able to "get over it" fast enough.
"When a person experiences trauma symptoms, it can interfere with their daily functioning," Neace said.
In response to their emotions, a trauma victim may exhibit behavioral changes like isolation, addiction to drugs or alcohol, poor hygiene, restlessness, hypervigilance or excessive spending.
"It increases a variety of impulses and definitely has a negative effect on their life," Neace said
All of these factors will impact a trauma victim's relationships.
Traumatic events not only result in modified behaviors, thoughts and emotions in adults — they can also make an impression upon children. A needs assessment study found that 780 children in Newton's school system were directly related to a primary victim of the Excel shooting, Jones said.
"Anyone and everyone who feels like they've been impacted by the Excel incident is welcome to come," Tarwater said.
Funding totaling around $700,000 from the Victims of Crime Act and the Anti-terrorism Emergency Assistance Program is being used to employ staff trained in trauma-informed services at The Resiliency Center.
Jones said The Resiliency Center will also rely on referrals from other community organizations who identify clients as being in need of their services.
The Resiliency Center is located at 215 S. Pine St., Suite 103. For more information about its services, call 316-217-1880 or visit http://www.resiliencycenter.org.