#CommunityResilience: JaLynn Hogan, ED of High Sky Children's Ranch

How have these tragedies in the past month affected your communities and the children, youth and families that you serve?

In our everyday living, we come to feel accustomed to the rhythms and patterns of our lives.  They are familiar and safe.  When your life/community is hijacked by a gunman randomly shooting while driving around the city, everyone is vulnerable and shaken.  All the sudden what is familiar is foreign and what was once safe is now anything but safe.  People are now untrusting and fearful.  Many are angry while others are still in shock.  At High Sky, we serve thirty three counties in West Texas, which makes the range of experience and emotions varied. Every day I speak to someone who was effected in some way by the shooting.  They were driving to dinner when the truck sped by with police officers chasing at high speed; they were stopped at a red light when the shooter drove by and shot randomly at them; they sat in their home and watched in disbelief as the events unfolded, and the stories continue. I believe once the shock wears off, individuals most shaken and effected will begin to speak up and hopefully seek help.

What is your story? 

At High Sky we strive to heal child abuse and promote family wholeness by reaching out to children and families who have found themselves reeling from situations they never imagined. We offer safety for those who have lived in fear, and hope when all seems lost.  Now we all have an opportunity to reach beyond our borders to offer that same safety, hope, and healing throughout the Permian Basin to everyone we encounter by extending a safe hand to hold or smile to hang on to when our sense of security is faltering.   As communities, we are not divided, rather we are united as we face a tragedy beyond our understanding and as we seek to bring healing and restoration to children and families throughout the Permian Basin.

At High Sky, individual employees volunteer for organizations who support victims of trauma and crisis intervention/stabilization throughout our community.  Rather than develop our own crisis team, we support and volunteer for those organizations who are already in place to intervene in crisis situations through community partnerships.

What does community resilience mean to you, your staff and the population you serve at this time and moving forward? In efforts to continue to tirelessly serve your children youth and families after such horrific events, has resilience taken on a new meaning? 

During these times, we find out what we are made of, the strength of our character and our communities. Permian Basin Strong describes a community coming together to make a difference individually and collectively.  Odessa, Midland, and surrounding communities (Permian Basin) have an opportunity to unite as we support those left in the wake of this devastating event and seek avenues to prevent these atrocities from occurring in the future.  In just a week, there are stories throughout the community of individuals, businesses, and churches stepping up to offer financial, emotional, and physical support to those affected by the shooting.  Community resilience is alive and well.

At High Sky we see the hurt, loss, betrayal, and anger in the faces of those who have suffered much every day, but I also see the hope, resilience, and strength in those same faces.  Faces looking to us for an opportunity to find safety, trust, and healing.  After this tragedy, I respect and admire the strength of character and resilience of the children and families we work with even more.  As I review the histories of children, teens, and families we serve, I am awed by their ability to survive the abuse, neglect, and loss they have each endured.  These children, teenagers, and families often go unnoticed in our community but we encounter them every day.  I am honored to be a part of their healing process.

What words of encouragement would you like to share with your fellow leaders in child welfare across Texas, especially in the wake of these tragedies?

In child welfare, we are experts and dealing with tragedy because we see it every day when families are torn apart by child abuse and neglect.  When children, teens, and families enter our doors after their lives have been shattered.  They look to us with skepticism and we have the opportunity to earn their trust.  Once they trust us, they will allow us into their circumstances so we can support them through their change process.

Every child welfare organization has an opportunity to make a difference in not only the children and families they serve, but also in the communities we reside.  We have the chance to be leaders for establishing organizations that are trauma sensitive and establish an example for others to follow.  Whether our organizations are large or small, the impact we make can change not only lives but futures by breaking generational dysfunction and brokenness.  Thank you all for the hard work you do every day in the trenches of trauma and tragedy!