Federal Grant to Johns Hopkins Continues Development of
Disaster preparedness rightly focuses on the need to
train police, firefighters and health care workers to
handle major emergencies. But a grant to Johns Hopkins from
the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,
funded by the federal Health Resources and Service
Administration, concentrates attention on an often
neglected group of professionals — clergy and
spiritual workers — who are asked to provide
"disaster ministry" to congregations during disasters.
Last year, Hopkins won a $94,714 HRSA grant to develop
a disaster preparedness curriculum in English and Spanish
and a pilot program to train several hundred, mostly
Christian, Baltimore-area religious leaders to respond to
the mental health and spiritual needs of people in the
aftermath of disasters. A second, Phase II, grant for
$240,000 provides funding to develop training programs so
that communities can home-grow disaster specialists.
Under the new grant, a self-perpetuating disaster
preparedness program for Christian, Muslim and Jewish
clergy will be developed. In addition to training in
psychological "first aid" and bereavement counseling,
experts will provide guidance to the local clergy in
disaster planning for their congregations and
"This new grant lets us strengthen our communities and
equip our neighbors to deal with disasters without the need
to call upon other external experts or organizations," said
Lee McCabe, associate professor of
psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the
School of Medicine and director of the grant.
Community partners in the program include CURE (Clergy
United for Renewal in East Baltimore), the Institute for
Mental Health Ministry, the Archdiocese of Baltimore-Office
of Hispanic Ministry, the Center for Jewish Education,
Masjid El-Haqq and the University of Maryland Department of
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
— Gary Stephenson
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