Diocesan Catholic Charities provide keys to resilience for volunteers

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Chances are when you look around a crowded room or even at Mass, there are people who are wounded. The wounds are not visible, but are felt in their hearts. Many have survived terrible things and are still recovering.

Beverly Hubble Tauke offered guidance for those working with individuals who have experienced trauma during a diocesan Catholic Charities volunteer training at St. John Neumann Church in Reston July 25. Tauke, Catholic Charities board member and counselor, spoke about keys to resilience.

“This is one of the most powerful subjects I can imagine. Part of the reason is it doesn’t matter the background of the people,” said Tauke. “Resilience is often not a simple matter because it depends on the person’s personal experience. When we look at keys to resilience and triumph, it is an equal opportunity for all.”

Tauke pointed out to the attendees that there were likely unhealed wounds among those gathered. “If we use tools in an effective way to find healing, we are in such a better position to be healing agents for people around us,” she said. “Maybe the people you are encountering you just don’t know are hurting inside, understanding these concepts will make a difference in being able to assist them.”

Parishioners can help others by offering a dose of TLC as seeds of God’s healing love, according to Tauke. “Research shows that even fleeting experiences of kind attention can offer powerful long-term inner healing as suggested by I Peter 4:8,” she said.

Tauke said faith plays a role in resilience. “On average, people of committed, active faith are happier, live longer, have better mental and physical health, greater marital satisfaction and even advantages in recovering from addiction,” she said. “Teenagers who embrace a strong faith tend to enjoy more academic success, more leadership roles, less anxiety and depression, and more resistance to such risky behaviors as drug and alcohol abuse and sex.”

The church can respond to those who experience trauma, as well.

“Here’s to ever more parishes willing to sponsor addiction support groups, divorce support groups, illness support and other types of ‘field hospitals,’ as encouraged by Pope Francis,” Tauke said. “Joining others who share difficult journeys in a faith context can be unusually empowering.”

Major infusions of encouragement, hope and friendship also come through parish groups who are “pipelines of God’s love to the poor, homeless, ill, imprisoned, ex-offenders and others. These networks build heart-nurturing bonds with each other while reaching out with healing power to others.”

Tauke introduced the volunteers to the 10-question ACE test (Adverse Childhood Experiences) that helps people see that issues are often less about “what’s wrong with me” than “what happened to me.”

“It is not a cop out,” she said. “It is just reality that relationships and events shape our lives, and clarity in our rearview mirrors can improve strategies for moving forward.”

Biblical concepts and science merge for heart-healing strategies that are far more profound than they may seem, according to Tauke. There are seven steps rated by researchers as especially effective for improving state of mind, mood management and coping skills: recruit positive allies; celebrate and thank historic supporters; take fearless family inventory; build core virtues and resilience habits; make positives a daily focus; forgive; and embrace faith.

The training was offered to volunteers and others who were hoping to find out ways to help themselves. It also is being offered to those in the Welcome Home Re-Entry program, which assists former inmates trying to get back on their feet.

Sally O’Dwyer, director of volunteers for Catholic Charities, said there is a therapeutic community among the Welcome Home Program. “They discuss how to keep a positive state of mind, understanding where you came from and how you see yourself might not be who you truly are,” said O’Dwyer. “A lot of times, if you’ve experienced neglect, you may have a low expectation of yourself but that might not actually be real. The reality is you have a lot to offer and there’s a lot of good in you.”

Learning resilience can help people “navigate the workplace, build on the positives in their lives, and learn gratitude, forgiveness and a better self-understanding,” said O’Dwyer. “So many people focus on the negative, and this is to help people focus on the good.”

O’Dwyer said the plan is to create a curriculum to offer in jails, that is applicable anywhere.

“These are all tools people can use to help someone who is suffering,” she said.  “You could use it for hospice care, someone who is unemployed or all different scenarios to help people feel better about themselves.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018

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