IBW Entities Mobilizing Support for Devastated Black Communities
In the aftermath of the devastation wreaked on Black communities by the recent hurricanes in the United States and the Caribbean, IBW’s Disaster Relief Task Force and its Black Family Summit (BFS) are fully engaged in a collaborative campaign to mobilize relief for the affected communities.
These two IBW entities are working closely with the Caribbean Emergency Management Association, the American Foundation of the University of the West Indies, the Joe Beasely Foundation, the Caribbean Association of Social Workers, The National Association of Black Social Workers, Unity in Disasters Inc. and the Pacifica Network of radio stations.
“Since the onset of the 2017 Hurricane Season, the IBW/BFS has effectively and efficiently mobilized it’s extensive network of intellectual capital, highly skilled practitioners, and knowledgeable strategic community organizers to provide an array of support services,” said Leonard Dunston, convenor of the Black Family Summit, a collective of 26 prestigious professional African-American organizations.
The nerve center and catalyst for IBW’s comprehensive mobilization is the All Healers Mental Health Alliance (AHMHA) led by Dr. Annelle Primm, a highly respected psychiatrist based in Baltimore. Since Hurricane Harvey pummeled Texas a few weeks ago IBW and its collaborators have employed key elements and modeled collective efforts after the AHMHA/BFS model that was so successfully utilized in NYC after Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012.
In Houston, this model uses the Shape Community Center as it’s meeting and organizing location. From there, the local service providers including the Houston Chapter of National Association of Black Social Workers, the Association of Black Psychologists, and other Houston-based healing organizations, go to the most depressed and marginalized communities that have been identified by the National Black United Front, and they provide in-person services, that include assistance with filling out FEMA forms, and emotional support services.
IBW and its partners have also been instrumental in pin pointing an array of needs in the Port Arthur/Beaumont/Orange areas of Texas.
“The Institute of the Black World is delighted and honored to partner with an array of highly credible community-based institutions, healing organizations, professional groupings and service oriented foundations in the USA and the Caribbean to mobilize support to the communities and islands devastated by these natural disasters,” said Dr. Ron Daniels, IBW’s President.
In the wake of the horrific impact of Hurricanes Jose and Maria on the Caribbean nations of Dominica, St. Maartens, Anguilla, Barbuda and the US Virgin Islands, IBW and its entities have begun to partner with the Caribbean Association of Social Workers in order to identify mental health clinicians who are interested in being deployed for a few weeks to provide critically needed and culturally appropriate mental services, especially to vulnerable populations such as children, elders and first responders.
“IBW is proud to be assisting the Caribbean Emergency Management Association (a unit of CARICOM) and the American Foundation of the University of the West Indies to raise funds in the USA to purchase food, medicines and vital living supplies for the many thousands of victims who have been left without food, shelter, electrical power and running water in several Caribbean islands,” said Don Rojas, IBW’s Director of Communications.
In September, 2014, IBW signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure that there are mechanisms for African-American organizations to come together and engage consistently with the country’s emergency management infrastructure.
The MOA’s components include information sharing about training and other resources, real-time updates throughout the disaster continuum, co-ordination on response efforts, messaging and materials development.
In recent weeks, IBW’s Disaster Relief Task Force under the leadership of it’s two Co-Chairs, Dr. Patricia Newton, CEO/Medical Director, Black Psychiatrists of America and Joseph Muhammad, a Past President, International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters, have helped former US Virgin Islands Delegate, Dr. Donna Christen Christensen, galvanize a variety of supports for this extremely hard hit island.
Those supports include, the beginning formation of a list of licensed clinical black psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers who are volunteering to travel to the Virgin Islands and provide emergency psychological first aid to the most vulnerable citizens, especially children, elders, and first responders. Also ,Mr. Muhammad has hosted Former Delegate Christensen, and other Islanders on his weekly Talk Radio Show in order to illuminate this tragedy via a Human face/voice.