By Linda Dillman
A new Canal Winchester Crisis Response Team provides an immediate, on-the-scene response to traumatic situations occurring within the community.
The team is partnering with local police departments, mental health providers, community members, and/or government officials to ensure complete wraparound services to those affected by incidents including homicides, suicides, and unexpected tragic deaths.
“I came up with this idea about one year ago because there have been so many different crisis that were occurring within our community and not enough support to meet those needs,” said organizer and social worker Arnetta Davis. “I was a one man band trying to pull everything together.”
The crisis team provides for temporary immediate needs not to exceed 90 days. Services are limited to community resources and/or services available at the time.
Davis said the composition of the team was decided based on the different community resources already available and pulling those resources together for the same common purpose, such as Canal Winchester Human Services director and team member Aletha Mullins.
“This team allows us just one more way to reach the residents within our service area,” said Mullins. We have programming to assist residents that are experiencing an immediate crisis. The Food Pantry program has several initiatives that address hunger insecurity. We have an Emergency Assistance program to help with utilities if someone is in disconnect or eviction in the Canal Winchester School District. During the holidays we assist in a variety of ways for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
Mullins said Human Services is contacted when there is a need for food assistance and anything else within their service realm.
In addition to Davis and Mullins, the team includes social workers Dee Dee Doling-Dade and Kim Vojacek, along with Angela Bensonhaver, who is responsible for collecting community drop-off donations.
In the event of a crisis, Davis uses different resources in obtaining information and activating the team.
Police departments and other entities in need of crisis team services—such as the local school district—contact Davis and alert her of the situation. She then reaches out to the team and is on scene within 30 minutes. Davis first assesses the situation and then gathers the necessary people and resources to meet any needs.
“I have dealt with crisis before but not as part of a team,” said Davis. “When I initially started responding to crisis years ago it started as me wanting to spread the love of Jesus through my works and allowing people to know that they are not alone in their time of need.”
As a licensed social worker, Davis has been involved in a variety of different community crises in providing services and resources. She said it was heartbreaking to see a lack of additional support and/or crisis teams.
“Not being able to keep up with all of the families was heartbreaking,” Davis said. “Then my own community started to get hit with crisis back to back and I knew it was time to step in. There was one specific homicide of two young people and being there and seeing the positive impact that I have had with the family allowed me to see that this work was super important. It’s really important for communities to come together and be there for one another, especially in times of need. We are all Canal.”