WW103 April 7, 2021 – Reviewing the Past While Looking Ahead to the Future: Introducing the FAERF Institute

Wednesday Wisdom Series April 7, 2021
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April 7, 2021

Following is the latest Wednesday Wisdom article from the Family Assistance Foundation, reminding you that a fully integrated approach for assisting survivors of traumatic loss involves a balance of head and heart. Wednesday Wisdom is written and copyrighted by Carolyn V. Coarsey, Ph.D., and distributed by the Family Assistance Education & Research Foundation Inc., www.fafonline.org. Reprint is available with written permission from the Foundation.

Reviewing the Past While Looking Ahead to the Future: 

Introducing the FAERF Institute

    This month we are reaching another milestone as the Foundation announces the FAERF Institute--an educational program aimed at bringing greater awareness to the field of humanitarian assistance to those who respond to survivors of workplace trauma. Amid the pandemic, the Foundation turned twenty years old this past November. Still grappling with the Coronavirus's uncertainty, the Foundation forges ahead and breaks new ground with the Institute's founding.

    There is a saying in emergency management that 'we plan for the worst and hope for the best.' Experience has taught us the value of planning while knowing that we are preparing for what we hope never happens; the preparation helps us handle the predictable and gives us energy to face that which was not. Looking back over the past twenty years, we have many examples to remind us of this.

A Few Facts About the Foundation's Beginnings 

    November 2020 marked the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Family Assistance Foundation. In 2003, the Foundation became a non-profit, 501-C3 organization; the name became the Family Assistance Education & Research Foundation (FAERF) to represent our growing mission. Both names informally referred to as ‘the Foundation’ are used interchangeably and trademarked with the heart/wing logo. April 2021, the Foundation officially kicks off the FAERF Institute.

…none of us could have foreseen the events that would cause the postponement of our first symposium scheduled for September 17-18, 2001.

    As education and training are a significant focus of our work at the Foundation, leaders began to plan for the first symposium shortly after its first Board meeting in the fall of 2000. Just as no one could have predicted the pandemic and its enormous impact on our world--none of us could have foreseen the events that would cause the postponement of our first symposium scheduled for September 17-18, 2001.

    While the world stopped as we assisted and supported those hit hardest by the 9/11 attacks, we knew it would be years before the impact would be fully understood--much less integrated. Unable to wait for the lessons that we knew would be forthcoming from the families and responders, the Foundation carried on with its mission. The first symposium was rescheduled and took place in Atlanta, GA., in January of 2002.

Four Interdisciplinary Workshops

    The meetings' format met with high praise from representatives of the companies and agency personnel who attended, and plans for a symposium for 2003 immediately began. Other community leaders who attended saw the presentations from survivors and responders alike as valuable, leading to other workshops that first year. The Foundation hosted four interdisciplinary workshops in 2002 co-sponsored by the American Red Cross, airports, and other response organizations. The workshops took place in Los Angeles, CA, Phoenix, AZ, Minneapolis, MN., and Boston, MA.

Sharing the Journey™, Volume 1, Issue 1

In January 2002, the Foundation's newsletter also became a reality. The newsletter's name, Sharing the Journey, represents the unity experienced by the company employees, community responders, and all specific workplace trauma survivors. The first issue details the Foundation's plans, and true to our mission, includes writings from survivors and employee (care team) responders. Additional issues published that first year continued to provide insight from survivors, care team members, and mental health professionals.

Announcing the FAERF Institute

    This month, April 2021, our newsletter, Sharing the Journey will formally detail the vision, mission, and goals of the FAERF Institute. The newsletter will also announce the two Advisory Boards who will shape the Institute's development. Comprised of survivors from multi-industry tragedies and family assistance leaders from business and industry, both Advisory Boards are committed to helping raise compassion consciousness in the aftermath of workplace trauma. Products will include a certificate program open to anyone who wishes to receive education about humanitarian response to traumatic loss in the workplace. The certificate modules will consist of presentations by subject matter experts from the specific area of interest and academic experts published in related fields. The distance learning model will provide the format for the program.

    In addition to the certificate program, the Institute will help raise funds for research to support studies that will provide scientific information which can be used in future modules to be delivered by the Institute. It is the goal of the Institute to continue bringing anecdotal data (examples of effective and ineffective processes and procedures in responses) to the forefront. However, future policies will need scientific studies to ensure that our generations' practical work will live beyond our lifetimes.

    Not unlike the first twenty years of our work at the Foundation, we know that many challenges lie ahead, and we have no way of knowing what most of them are. However, I believe that the dedication to this cause, held by so many of us, will remain steadfast and see us through to ever-expanding awareness in years to come.

A Personal Note

    As I reflect on the past thirty-plus years of my career and look toward the future, I remember many survivors and responders who did not live to see this new era where survivor assistance is a field in its own right. But their contribution to where we are now in history is not lost--and I am grateful for what they shared with us. The following quote on creativity from one of my favorite meditation teachers' writing expresses my feelings best.


I have buried my disappointments in the cemeteries of yesterday. Today I plow the garden of life with my new creative efforts. Therein I will sow seeds of wisdom, health, prosperity, and happiness. I will water them with self-confidence and faith and will wait for the Divine to give me the rightful harvest.

-Paramahansa Yogananda, Metaphysical Meditations

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