Having worked in many communities across the west, Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) Regional Operations Coordinator Jeff Koller was all too familiar with the strain and stress disaster recovery leaders live with each day. As MDS worked toward meeting people’s needs, leaders he met were feeling the effects of secondary trauma.
One such leader, Chris Files from Bastrop, Texas, had been through two wildfires, three floods, and a tornado – all in 5 years. When MDS asked her if there was anything else they could do to help, she asked if she could talk with people who had similar experiences. MDS decided to gather disaster leaders to support one another and share previous experiences. In September of 2016, MDS held a symposium in Wichita, KS which was attended by 7 disaster recovery leaders from 7 states.