Welcome back to our two-part blog series on Project HEAL: Helping Everyone Align with Love. Project HEAL is funded by an anonymous, philanthropic friend of Gulf Coast. Project HEAL is helping four community agencies focus on positive organizational change.
What is a trauma-informed organization?
An organization that is trauma-informed realizes the widespread impact of trauma and understands potential paths to recovery. They recognize the signs and symptoms of trauma in clients, families, staff, and others involved with the homeless services system. The organizations respond by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices. They seek to actively resist re-traumatization. Trauma-informed principles include safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, and empowerment.
Gulf Coast’s Director of Community Leadership Jennifer Johnston shared, “I don’t know how to put into words what this investment in our service sector means to our community and neighbors in need. The healing and learning among nonprofit staff, their contacts, Boards, and the people they serve is immeasurable. Participating in this journey and hearing them support one another has been a phenomenal experience. This is how we cultivate a trauma-informed community of hope and healing.”
The goals of Project HEAL include raising awareness about the benefits of a trauma-informed approach across the system of care; supporting the development of sustainable trauma-informed cultures and services; and documenting the impact of the change on staff, organizational climate, and clients.
Progress Thus Far
The effects of this technical assistance journey are already palpable. Early wins by the cohort include Harvest House developing a more robust onboarding process for new employees and increased safety measures on campuses including additional lighting and signage. Family Promise of South Sarasota County is updating their training for volunteer coordinators and faith-community volunteers. Suncoast Partnership created a room where staff can go to decompress. Community Assisted & Supported Living (CASL) hired a trainer to teach trauma-informed principles to the staff.
We are grateful to the philanthropist who made this in-depth support possible through Project HEAL to create an environment where individuals can heal from homelessness and move forward to achieve their dreams.