TARPON SPRINGS — One traumatic event can color a person's entire life. Two local organizations are partnering to educate the public about trauma and ways the community can help lessen its scars.
In what's being called a Community Education Day, the Tarpon Springs Rotary Club and the Shepherd Center of Tarpon Springs are hosting a daylong seminar that will focus on the issue.
The program — "Domestic Violence: Trauma and Youth" — will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church Hall, 501 E Tarpon Ave. It will bring together experts and service organizations that deal with trauma and its results.
"A lot of people don't know what trauma is," said Ron Haddad, president of the Shepherd Center's board of directors. "This program is trying to educate the community on how domestic violence and trauma can affect a young person."
Many adults who experienced traumatic events such as domestic violence as children will end up incarcerated or homeless, Haddad said.
Speakers at the public seminar will include Tonier Cain, a trauma victim and current director of Advocacy Services for the National Association of State Mental Health Directors; Dr. Joan Gillece, project director for the National Center for Trauma Informed Care; and Dr. Andrea Blanch, president of the Center for Religious Tolerance and a member of the National Trauma Consortium.
The seminar is free to the public. The Rotary Club normally contributes $500 a year to the Shepherd Center. This year, the club received a matching grant from the organization's district office to help fund the seminar.
In a separate effort, the city of Tarpon Springs also is working to address trauma and reduce its impact on the community. Mayor David Archie, Commissioner Robin Saenger and about 20 other city leaders and community organizers have been meeting for about five months to talk about ways to provide help to people who have experienced a traumatic event.
"Unresolved trauma ends up being a societal issue," Saenger said. "Homelessness, the dropout rate, addiction issues, an abuser are all issues that cities deal with. We have all these programs in place, and they are not cohesive. Trauma resolution and ending the cycle is the goal."
Saenger pointed to the shooting at a local Publix last year as an example of a traumatic event that can have lasting impact on those who witnessed it.
Archie is executive director of the Citizens Alliance for Progress, which works with many Tarpon Springs youth. He said helping children deal with trauma is vital.
"When dealing with children, and what impacts children who have been traumatized, it goes across racial and economic lines," Archie said. "A lot of people have these events happening that totally changed their lives. We want to find a way to help resolve those issues in a positive way."
Blanch said many people think trauma is an issue only for those with mental health issues or war veterans.
"But the truth is, it affects everybody and everybody has a role to play in making healthier, safer communities," Blanch said.
Tarpon Springs is unique in its approach to the issue of trauma.
"I don't know of another city that has attacked this so systematically," Blanch said. "To look at an issue that affects the whole city and to get all aspects of the city working together is very unusual."
Contact Demorris A. Lee at email@example.com or (727) 445-4174.