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Relief, Recovery, Development

HOTEL INC is always assessing and questioning whether the steps we are taking to support someone are the right steps at the right time. Though we work in this daily, we are not immune to wanting more for someone than they want for themselves, to wanting to give people more than they need, or to thinking we know what is best rather than asking and truly listening. Fortunately, FCS (Focused Community Strategies) has given us language and structure that helps us determine the most appropriate interventions for the situation. We have had many conversations during the pandemic, and in the weeks following the tornados, about HOTEL INC’s response. FCS recognizes three interventions which they refer to as relief, recovery and development.

What kind of help should be provided after a crisis?

Immediately following the crisis, resources should be given to individuals unable to provide basic and human needs such as food, shelter or emotional support for themselves.

How long is providing relief beneficial?

Relief is beneficial temporarily. The longer we provide a crisis response to those who are stable and capable of moving beyond, the more potential there is for long-term harm and dependency.

Although relief is specific to situations and individuals, it should generally last 1-3 months, no more than 6 months. Relief interventions were appropriate early in the pandemic when food access was impacted and following the tornadoes for those who no longer had a roof over their head or edible food in their refrigerators.

It may be helpful to think of it like our bodies. If the body suffers a serious wound, there are immediate steps that must be taken for stabilization. But when the crisis is stable (the bleeding has stopped) it is time to move to the next intervention.

So what happens when the immediate crisis is over but people are still in need?

Recovery is the next stage. The goal of recovery is for people to restore the positive aspects of their lives pre-crisis. We assist people by getting to know them and helping them recognize and find ways to utilize their gifts and abilities – to find their own solutions. Early on there may still be some needs that can only be met with other resources and helping people access these as needed during recovery is appropriate.

How long is the recovery stage?

Recovery is individualized and may take months depending on a lot of factors. While recovery takes longer than relief, it is also temporary. The goal is for individuals to be as self- sufficient as they were before the crisis.

What is development?

When communities are stable and functioning but not yet thriving, development is needed to create independence and sustainability. Development is like when the body has recovered from injury and is now ready to grow stronger to help minimize the consequences of future injury.

What could I do to help with development?

Most resources, including leadership, are found within the community itself but some knowledge, training or funding may come externally through partnerships, which must be mutually beneficial. Development starts with building relationships through deep listening then empowering people to use their voice and advocate for themselves.

Ongoing assessment of a community’s assets and needs are critical to determine the appropriate response. Often it is a continual cycle that is applied to individuals; we meet them in crisis, attend to immediate needs, set them on a course for recovery and when they are ready introduce them to the work of development in their own lives. In Delafield, we have identified the needs that are most pronounced – connectivity with neighbors and access to affordable fresh food. We have worked with the Delafield community to develop a process to communicate and initiate projects to impact recovery in these areas and will support the development work that will lead to a thriving neighbor- hood. Our neighbors will take the lead in determining next steps as we remind ourselves not to do for them what they have the capacity to do for themselves. This is a slow process which requires deep listening, abundant patience, collaboration and commitment of both time and finances.

Continuing the Journey

When participants transition to aftercare, we ask them to create a plan and set goals for the next 3 months. We have guidelines we try and follow to assist them in achieving their goals, maintain their housing, improve their health and nutrition. We have learned that having a plan that is flexible to each person is more meaningful and effective when they take the lead. This is much more rewarding because they are determining the steps necessary to be self- sufficient and have lasting change of their previous circumstances.