• July 8, 2020

Center open for in-person services - Odessa American: News

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Posted: Friday, June 26, 2020 12:23 pm

Family Resiliency Center Coordinator Chandra Quintanar is no stranger to trauma and wants to help people in the Permian Basin come to terms with the onslaught that has hit the area in recent months.

Along with the shootings, there is the COVID-19 pandemic, protests and unrest touched off by the death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

Quintanar grew up overseas. Her parents were missionaries in Africa and her experience instilled a desire in her to help people.

“… I had a very unique introduction to trauma,” she said. “When I was 15, there was civil unrest in the country where we lived and we were actually evacuated and so were given 24 hours to get everything we wanted to keep and get out. … At that point, we’d been there for seven years. So that was home.”

She had two siblings, one of whom was about 2 1/2 at the time.

“… We had to gather everything we could gather and leave our home behind. There was mass violence involved, not directed at us but obviously around us. That was kind of my first this is what this kind of thing looks like experience. When I was 17, my mom was killed by a drunk driver and so I got to deal with that trauma as well …,” Quintanar said.

She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Liberty University and a graduate degree in professional counseling from the same school.

“In 2011, I began working with a crisis center. I was living in Houston. That offered different hotlines and crisis response teams and things like that. That’s where I began to get my professional experience in crisis and trauma, so I have kind of a unique set of qualifications because I have very personal experience with trauma and then I have the professional background and the education to support good, healthy coping skills and resiliency focus,” Quintanar said.

Created after the Aug. 31, 2019, mass shooting, the governor’s office selected PermiaCare, the local mental health authority, as the agency to lead the Family Resiliency Center.

“We started talking about services and we looked at other resiliency centers and we tried to look at what other centers have offered successfully. What’s been beneficial? Then of course look specifically at Midland and Odessa to see what we thought would help these communities because we didn’t just want to recreate something; we want it to be what’s going to be the most helpful here,” Quintanar said.

She added that they spoke to some of the other centers and figured out that one of the most beneficial things would be to offer some alternative therapies and wellness services like trauma-informed yoga, art workshops and other creative outlets.

“We’re going to start with yoga and art workshops. It’s just going to be a way for people to focus on something positive when the negative starts to become overwhelming. Then the other thing is we don’t want to be like you can just do yoga and all of your cares will be gone because trauma is a very real thing and we want to make sure we help people process their trauma and not get over it because I don’t believe that’s an accurate statement, but learn coping skills to help them deal with it,” Quintanar said.

In person, the center will offer yoga on Tuesday and Thursday at 5 p.m. Tuesday is the intro class and Thursday will become, starting in July, more advanced. Quintanar said it is trauma-informed yoga.

“It just means it’s sensitive to folks who might have experienced trauma. What that means is the movements are very intentional. Even before physically distancing was a thing, we were still providing distancing so people didn’t feel like they were crowded. … There’s no loud music. There’s no music at all. We don’t do hot or cold extremes. The movements are very slow and steady and calming. It’s just kind of a softer, gentler yoga,” Quintanar added.

Art workshops will start Saturdays.

“We’re really excited about that, and then hopefully in July, we’ll square away our music groups and we think that’s going to kind of look like an open mic night — without the booze.

“We can’t have alcohol here, but we want it to be a place where people can just come and share whatever makes them feel better so if that’s playing a song, or singing, or poetry or really anything that is therapeutic that is kind of from that section of life,” she said.

The center is offering psychological first aid and skills for psychological recovery starts in July.

“And those are blended, so there’s an online portion and an in-person portion. Then in August, we’ll begin doing mental health first aid. And in September, I’m most excited about some suicide prevention stuff that we’re going to start doing,” Quintanar said.

“We’re going to work with the founder of 1-800-SUICIDE. I’ve worked with him for a long time. He is actually going to help us get some classes available, but also we’re going to actually start doing some research and offer some training to first responders, law enforcement. But we really want to push this training into the community so that we can make a difference. There’s been an increase in suicides. There’s been one (an increase) since the shooting because that’s pretty much a common response, unfortunately, to violence, especially when you have so many families affected in so many locations,” she added.

The shootings took place in many different locations between Odessa and Midland. Many mass shootings that take place have one central location, she said.

Along with yoga, art and the other services, there will be a variety of support groups and counseling referrals to Centers for Children and Families.

“… If somebody comes here and we meet with them and determine that would be beneficial, the grant actually allows to pay for the first six sessions with a licensed counselor so we will refer to Centers for Children and Families for that so we can meet all of the needs,” Quintanar said.

When he gets older, the center will also have a therapy dog named Cooper, an Australian shepherd and golden retriever mix.

“He is still a year out from being certified, so he just keeps us company and makes people smile when he’s not jumping on them. But eventually he’ll get there. He won’t get certification until he’s a year old, but right now he just gives kisses and hugs.”

Quintanar said the center has probably served about 100 people since it opened. And they get 50-plus viewers for yoga over Facebook live when it’s offered.

Outreach Specialist Danese Johnson assists Quintanar in her work. She’s learning as she goes.

“I’ve got a background in mental health and social services, but it’s a different ball of wax dealing with trauma related to this type of shooting …”

Having the Family Resiliency Center, she said, is crucial.

“I think it’s vital and what we do here, it stemmed from the shooting but the pandemic stuff it’s important. … This is just the base of what we do and why we’re funded. In the long run, I think it’s important to almost any community,” Johnson said.

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