Historic Brown Chapel AME Church held event for Tornado victims

Published 7:10 am Wednesday, July 19, 2023

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Historic Brown Chapel AME Church made a big impact in the lives in multiple citizens of Dallas County last Friday.

The church called the event a “Balm in Gilead” to help those who were in need from the January 12 tornado.

The church gave out free food, gift cards, intangibles and other items for those who were still suffering from damage from January. There was mental health professionals as well to help not only the physical needs of the ones that came but the mental.

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“Just know that all of us have something wrong with us,” Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr. said. “It’s not just in our bodies. Some of it is in our minds. Some of it is in our spirit. Some of it is in our heart. Everybody has something wrong with us.”

Perkins continued by saying that the tornado that came through in January did a lot of damage not only to the communities homes and dwellings but to the community’s mental health as well.

“I can assure you that the tornado that came through on January 12 touched many of your communities,” Perkins said. “It left most of us with Post Traumatic Stress. Every time we see lightning or hear thunder right now we get a little nervous. Every time we hear gunshots in our neighborhoods we get stressed out a little bit more.”

Throughout the day, hundreds of Dallas County residents came by Brown Chapel seeking help for not only their physical needs but their mental and spiritual needs as well. There were chaplains and members of FEMA and other state organizations in attendance to help the people coming in.

One of the mental health providers at the event was Charryse Gorden who is an outpatient therapist at the Cahaba Mental Health Center in Perry County. She said that even though Selma is several months removed from the January tornado there are still people suffering and having Brown Chapel bring mental health to the forefront is a big deal for those who are still trying to figure life out one day at a time.

“January 12, 2023 is a day that Selma, especially those that were directly impacted, will never forget,” Gorden said. “I spoke from the perspective of grief during the event. grief is a natural response to loss. grief can be the result of any major adjustments or losses during the course of your life. There isn’t a specific time frame. My goal was to encourage the victims that it is perfectly ok to still not fully be ok even though we are 6 months removed from the tornado. The initial stage of grief is shock/denial. There were some still in this stage. The goal is to get to the final stage of grief which is acceptance, which the time frame will vary for each family.”

“I feel that it is great that organizations are still reaching out to those that were affected,” Gorden continued.”

One of the main focuses of the day was to not be ashamed of asking for help when one is in need of help. Perkins said that there is no shame in this and no one should ever feel ashamed when it comes to seeking help.

“We should never be ashamed of seeking good help,” Perkins said. “Whether it’s for your body, for your mind or for your spirit. If it’s your mind you need to get somebody who knows how to treat your mind. If you got a heart problem you need to find your cardiologist. If you got a spirit problem you need to find your pastor.”