The Anchor Holds: Trauma & Resilience in Western KY 12/29/21

My husband and I traveled to Mayfield, Ky on Christmas Day, after an evening/overnight Xmas Eve visit with our daughter in Murray, Ky. We both felt we needed to bring some donations and support to the tornado survivors because the tornado had hit awfully “close to home,” being just 30 miles from our daughter’s little college town. I hadn’t looked online at photos, figured I’d see it when I got there and didn’t want to get myself super upset before riding into town to bring some love, hope, and warmth to the survivors. I had enlisted some family members in donating last minute as well, and we had filled my SUV with gently used coats, warm clothing, slippers, toilet paper, mandala coloring books, TTN stress squeezy hearts, and about 50 large stuffed animals. I had made a card of sorts on flip chart paper and decorated it with some inspirational things, and hand-signed messages from the donors.

The experience was both devastating/sobering and hopeful. “When there is tragedy, look for the helpers” was Mister Rogers’ saying.  I said to myself, “look for the hope,” and by God, I found it amidst the ruins. It was in the resilient trees, in the volunteers spending their Xmas day helping others; it was in the beautiful blue sky and brightly shining sun that served as a backdrop for my photos; it was in the children who smiled big, toothy smiles when we showed them the stuffed animals, and it was in the pre-teen girl who picked out a big stuffed wolf 🐺, half the size of her body, and then hugged it over and over again like it was a long lost friend. And then as I turned down one block to see the memorials to all the lost loved ones, there it was “Hope” itself. Someone knew it was there too, but just in case others were too distracted or overwhelmed to see it, the Hope ambassador thought it prudent to put up a sign. My deepest respect to whomever this was, you are one of my people and you bring light to the darkness.

Please know that this natural disaster creates the type of tragedy that takes millions of dollars and years to rebuild from, and that’s just the physical aspect. If you’re able to give to the relief fund, it’s sorely needed. If you’re able to pray or volunteer or provide relief in some way, it’s sorely needed. The tribe needs you. They are survivors and they’re still standing, but that’s exhausting work admidst tragedy and they could use some folks to lean on. Elton John’s Still Standing in 2019 (although a bit wearier since the debut of that song in the ’80s, but aren’t we all a bit wearier these days??)

May your day be sprinkled with HOPE no matter what challenges may come!

Melissa Adamchik, KY Tribe Member & Executive Director of the Tristate Trauma Network

Trauma is the Real Epidemic 12/10/21

This entry is brought to us by Ronald Hummons, local Cincinnati man and trauma survivor/warrior who is trying to bring public awareness to the childhood trauma epidemic, especially as it exists in the Black and Brown communities, of which he is a part. I’ll let his words speak first here, then give some thoughts after.

Ronald’s Entry: “Did you know that childhood trauma could translate into low productivity, high turnover, sinking morale and rising health care costs? There has been a lack of response by elected officials to join the fight in declaring a State of Emergency on Childhood Trauma. The lack of response is disheartening. Childhood Trauma impacts the lives of many; directly and indirectly.

As I continue to research Childhood Trauma, the more I realize that it isn’t just one agency’s responsibility. Ohio has a history of cutting funding to the very agency that is supposed to service the victims of childhood trauma. Did you know that our state spends 1.3% of the overall budget on Child Protective Services, while spending 2.9% of the overall budget on the Corrections Department. As an entrepreneur, I know that providing a solution by addressing the Childhood Trauma that has created more costs to the State would allow for finances to be allocated differently.

The studies on childhood trauma represents a direct correlation of untreated trauma with the increase of police interactions. Knowing this, our lawmakers continue to fail to address childhood trauma to help lessen the need for such a large budget. After researching, I found the following facts:
● Most people in the Ohio and the rest of the country have at least one (Adverse Childhood Experience) ACE, and that people with an accumulation of childhood adversities — including divorce, racism, living with an alcoholic parent, and physical abuse — have a higher risk of adult onset of chronic health problems such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, suicide, and alcoholism.
● Toxic stress caused by ACEs damages the function and structure of kids’ developing brains
● Toxic stress caused by ACEs affects every part of the body, leading to autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis, as well as heart disease, breast cancer, lung cancer, etc.,
● Toxic stress caused by ACEs can alter how our DNA functions, and how that can be passed on from generation to generation
● The brain of a teen with a high ACE score can be healed with cognitive behavior therapy (one approach to treatment), and schools can integrate trauma-informed and resilience-building practices that result in an increase in students’ scores, test grades and graduation rates.

Knowing all of these facts and knowing that lawmakers have these studies, the lack of call to action to declare a State of Emergency on Childhood Trauma is disturbing.

Childhood trauma is most likely to occur in areas with lower socioeconomic status and higher crime rates. It is no secret that low-income areas have the highest crime rate. Areas with the highest crime rate have the highest instances of childhood trauma. The only way to fix a broken system is to properly fund the solutions to the problem. How do you fund a solution when there is no funding available in the budget? That solution is to declare a State of Emergency.

Governors in the United States have the ability to declare an official state of emergency in the face of events such as natural disasters or disease outbreaks. According to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, these state responses to an official emergency may include grants, conducting and supporting investigations into the cause, treatment, prevention of disease, and temporary reassignment of state and local personnel.

Because of the loss of life and strain on local resources caused by the opioid crisis, many people in Ohio advocated for the opioid issue to be declared as a state of emergency. Their collective voices were heard, and it was declared on a state and federal level. Billions of funds were allocated towards the dismantling of a crisis rooted in trauma.

Drug use by victims of childhood trauma is a common way of self-medicating. Why not fund a solution to help eliminate the root cause of many opioid addictions? Why are we not funding the solutions to reduce and address untreated childhood trauma?

The majority of children with the highest instances of childhood trauma are Black and Brown. Do our lawmakers fail to see the benefit of providing a solution to a demographic that they cannot relate with? Do our lawmakers not want to help poor families? Children that have untreated childhood trauma are more likely to end up in prison. Are we funding prisons the big business in Ohio rather than allocating the funds to resources that can provide a solution to reduce the likelihood of childhood trauma? Is this a systematic issue that reaps rewards for our trauma?

I am a survivor of childhood trauma. As I think back to my own childhood, I see that the system was broken even when I was a child and now as an adult living with the biological impact has been painful and depressing. The long term effects decreases your quality of life and strengthens your survival mode, trying to figure out how to live with the chronic pain due to fibromyalgia. There’s solutions to fight the world’s biggest epidemic, but when the trauma of Black and Brown babies fuel the economy will those solutions ever see the light of day? We’ll see.

Ron, I believe that we will see this happen. When I was thinking of a song to attach to your post, I found myself going to Sam Cooke, Pioneer and Prophet in the 1950s-60s who knew “A Change is Gonna Come”.

I think Sam speaks to Ron and to all of us who want to not just BE the change, but SEE the change on a large scale.

At TTN, we thank Ronald Hummons for his grand service to the community.  He has put in countless personal hours to draw attention to himself, his story, and this issue, even standing for 24 hours at the State Capitol building in Columbus, OH, with the sign he made (pictured above) and wore in the cold wintertime of 2018.  In 2019, things started to move, and I was invited to witness and be a part of some testimony that primarily Ron, but also others (including TRCC certified and TTN Individual Professional member, LaShanda Sugg),  gave at the State Capitol with the support of two Black Congressmen, who heard and understood Ron’s call. These two gentlemen spent a significant amount of time in meetings with people at the State, (including the very first OHMHAS Trauma-Informed Care Coordinator, Kim Kehl, who recently retired after giving 7 years of service to the cause) and at the local Greater Cincinnati area level, learning more to prepare for the Resolution. I was honored to have been invited into the discussion as they prepared for the late February 2020 introduction of the Resolution.

Unfortunately, much like most new initiatives at the time, momentum was halted due to the COVID pandemic.  Ron has not given up, he is working hard to bring this to the foreforont of awareness again amd to garner more support. In fact, he and I could use your help in spreading the word, spreading this blog, and telling your local congressman or woman to get on board with the proposed Resolution, which would funnel attention and the proper funds to this initiative to create and implement the change that is so sorely needed.  As I said back in February 2020 at my unplanned, but much appreciated, turn behind the pulpit, “we’ve built an initiaive through the Tristate Trauma Network. Folks have been trained, have made  personal and agency shifts to be more trauma-informed and responsive, and the time is ripe/right for this. There will be an army ready to march behind Mr. Hummons and the State of Ohio.” (I have the whole clip with all the speakers if anyone is interested in that, it is quite powerful and I was moved to speak after listening to Ron and LaShanda and some others; thus, as soon as the invitation was made to speak, I went for it. Perhaps when the invtation is made to you, you’ll “go for it” too.  Trust me, it’s coming….:)   

Cue “Florence + The Machine live in concert singing “The Dog Days are Over”

I think Ron needs a “Ron +The Machine” effort here to help push this issue back to the front. PLEASE SHARE THIS TO YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS, TEXT, EMAIL, ETC; LET”S GET THIS BACK ON THE STATE OF OHIO’s AGENDA!  An after that, I’ll gather some folks to take it to KY and IN. That is my promise to you.

May your day be sprinkled with HOPE,

Melissa Adamchik, Executive Director, Tristate Trauma Network (TTN)