Using Trauma-Informed Care to Help Communities Heal: Q&A with Brenda Mosley
Brenda Mosley, 69, is a Certified Community Health Worker with the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, a non-profit organization and Kresge Foundation grantee that advances social equity and economic empowerment by promoting and creating opportunities for residents to live and actively shape their neighborhoods. of choice. She is also the founder and executive director of By Faith, Health and Healing, a non-profit organization that supports residents of the Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia, where Mosley lives, to address community trauma, including substance abuse, violence army and poverty.
In this interview, Mosley shares her own story of personal trauma and how trauma awareness reshaped her life. Specifically, she talks about her own experience with trauma-informed carean approach to engaging people with a history of trauma that acknowledges the presence of trauma symptoms and acknowledges the role that trauma has played in their lives, and why she now dedicates her time to helping others in her community receive similar care.
Before discussing your work, please tell me how you came to be interested in trauma-informed community engagement?
I am a childhood trauma survivor. I was sexually abused from age 2 to 7, and I was also mentally, physically, and emotionally abused growing up. I dropped out of school in 9e grade and started using drugs to take away all the pain from those experiences. I used drugs for almost 30 years. I had kids, so I dragged my kids into my addiction. In 1991, after many encounters with addiction, after incarceration, after having my children taken away by the City, I hit rock bottom. I was 38 years old. That’s when I went to a 12 step program, went back to school and started realizing some things after being told my whole life that I was never going to be nothing. I got a registered nurse certification and worked mostly in the emergency room at Temple University. Throughout my recovery, I told my daughter, who had cerebral palsy and was taken from me by the city, that I would get her back. At each step, I told him.
In 2007 my daughter was hospitalized and put on a ventilator and had a tracheostomy. The facility she was in did not have staff for tracheostomists, so because I was a registered nurse, I was able to pick her up and care for her myself. The courts awarded it to me. While caring for her, I realized that parents should be able to care for their own children with cerebral palsy, so I started my own home care agency. I was about to get my agency certified by the state when my daughter passed away in 2014.
I was then in a state of mourning. I had worked for years to get her back. I didn’t want anything. I retired from nursing. I sold the house and moved to Kensington, to a neighborhood that was recognizable to me from my drug addiction days. There, I stayed for a year in my house, unfit, mourning the loss of my daughter and not knowing where to turn.
Finally, I went to a neighborhood meeting. I met two ladies there who invited me back to learn more about them and also about the New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC). They opened my mind and opened my mind to allow me to grieve at a natural pace. I started knitting and crocheting with them. They gave me peace. One day they asked me if I would volunteer to participate in a trauma-informed program. It was a three-year program. We were 10 women who all had something in common. We had all lost a child. We talked about the brain and how growing up as a child you need to be nurtured to be able to make good decisions and how all these things that happened to me as a child hindered my growth . I saw how I didn’t have the luxury of learning to process things on a healthy level until I started to see those pieces of the puzzle given to me through patient-informed care. traumas. When I received trauma-informed healing, I began to open up, cry, let go, and release pain, pain, and heartache, all the things that had held me back from healing properly. .
I understand that you and the other nine women co-created the NKCDC toolbox for trauma-informed community engagement. How did you live this experience?
The program organizers asked us what aspects of trauma-informed care worked best for our community. We looked at four different models and compared which ones really worked for us. We talked about how in your community you need to feel safe because if you feel safe you can live your life productively. So we’ve talked a lot about what happens if you don’t feel safe. We called it a “record”. We wondered how their day was and found out where people were at with their emotions in order to respect that person’s space. And we looked at the loss. What can we lose if we are not safe? It’s not just about losing a loved one. It can also be the loss of integrity, of self, of a job, of a home. And then we looked at the future and what it holds for the community, and walked through the different models to determine what worked best for us and how the models could be used not only to help individuals, but also to develop the community in a way that addresses all of these issues and stressors and helps us see what the community wants to change.
Why is it important to take a trauma-informed approach to community engagement in Kensington?
In Kensington, it’s all about trauma. Drug addiction. Abuse, other issues. I know what they are going through because I have been through it. And there’s no other way to introduce trauma than to say “trauma” and let people know what it is so they can recognize it because either someone is going through trauma, or he does not see it. If they’re in it and the stress isn’t relieved, that stress builds and builds and it becomes toxic.
You now run your own non-profit organization to provide other Kensington residents with trauma-informed support. Can you give examples of what this looks like?
Yes. When I started living again and the joys and pleasures of life started to come back again, I knew it was because of this trauma-informed program and these women, so I volunteered with the program. Three years ago, I started a non-profit organization called By Faith, Health and Healing to provide trauma-informed care as a way to connect with people in this community and create space for for the community to come together, to feel safe, to understand what kind of loss that we as a community can work together to help you accept so that you can make room to accept new better things inside coming.
I started with a pilot program called Mother’s Pain, Mother’s Love, for women who have lost a child like me. In this program, I use a Trauma-Informed Curriculum model, which is the same model that helped me look at myself and my loss and build a future after the death of my daughter. I also offer yoga, music and art therapy. There are local organizations that provide these services. Some of them do it for free because they want to know more about trauma-informed care. I also did a trauma-focused summer camp this summer for youth, which was a first for me and one of my joys. I wanted to acknowledge neighborhood children and the traumatic events they go through and bring families together to help them understand why their children may be acting out. On the last day of camp, all of these parents and kids who are having all these issues got together for a day trip to an amusement park in the Poconos. It really touched me. It was so amazing for parents to be able to hang out, get out and get away from Kensington for a day.
With back to school going, I want to do something to keep these kids and their parents engaged. Not too much, because I don’t want to overwhelm them and nobody feels overwhelmed. I just want them to be able to keep this safe space that they’ve built together because that’s how healing happens.
To learn more about the work of the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, click here.