While Arkansas was coping with severe storms and flooding this May, one of the deadliest tornadoes in American history struck our neighbors to the north. The EF-5 tornado that razed a 6-mile swath of Joplin, Missouri, killed more than 150 people, injured hundreds more and left thousands homeless. In the aftermath of such a tragedy, there is not only physical devastation, but also psychological and emotional damage. Receiving behavioral-health services can become just as important as obtaining food and shelter.
I recently learned that one of Arkansas's mental-health-service providers played an important response role in Joplin after the storm struck. DaySpring Behavioral Health sent more than two dozen mental-health professionals from across Arkansas to provide emotional "first aid" to those who had been part of search-and-rescue efforts, and later, recovery.
These Arkansans were among the first on the ground in Joplin, working with AmeriCorps, local schools, and churches to address the overwhelming mental anguish that storm victims and first-responders were experiencing. As a certified first-responder agency, DaySpring has often worked with the Red Cross here at home, reacting when floods and tornadoes damage areas in Arkansas. In fact, while some staffers were in Joplin, another DaySpring team responded to a tornado in Johnson County, Arkansas.
DaySpring provides mental-health counseling and employment services for disabled adults, substance-abusers, and troubled youth. The staff works to provide services tailored to the individual, engaging and building a support network within the community for each client they serve. The goal is for individuals to become active members of their community, to learn to be more self-reliant, and to give back to those around them.
Strong communities are the true strength of our nation, and an active, involved citizenry ensures that communities have the resources needed to prosper and recover from tragedy. DaySpring helps to provide the necessary care for those in need to get back on their feet. A local youth minister in Joplin, who worked with these professionals, said that the DaySpring staff exemplified the best in people and that they were a credit to the State of Arkansas.
I often speak of the unwavering generosity of Arkansans after natural disasters. It is a trait that has been tested time and again in recent years, and every time, our people come through to ensure that victims are cared for, whether in their own communities or in another town 100 miles away.
I am proud that we are home to organizations like DaySpring, which are not only working in our State, but also reaching out to our neighbors, helping them to recover and rebuild on a path that leads to more productive lives. Americans always bounce back, and Arkansans are always willing to do our part to help.