The power of community is an awe-inspiring thing. As we look at what IHAN accomplished during this incredibly challenging year, and what we have planned for 2021, it’s clear that our amazing community – you – got us here.
We formed Integrative Healers Action Network during the 2017 Tubbs Fire in our home of Sonoma County, which at the time was the most destructive urban wildfire in California history. The trauma and pain that ensued during and after that disaster was like nothing our community had experienced before. We organized integrative health practitioners to offer free support for evacuees and first responders during the three-week fire storm because we saw a gap in care. Providing hands-on care and healing to evacuees and first responders was like witnessing a powerful transformation in real time. Individuals who had minutes to grab their loved ones and run for their lives, or firefighters that were working strenuous hours keeping our communities safe, had the space to let healing happen. As we watched the life come back into their eyes and bodies, we had no idea that what we started three years ago would become what it is now.
Today, IHAN is a nonprofit partnered with American Red Cross and multiple other disaster response and integrative health organizations. We have over 100 active licensed and certified practitioner volunteers, all trained in trauma-informed care to deliver safe and effective treatments. We wish we weren’t needed more and more with each year, but the reality is that we are in the midst of a climate crisis. 2020 highlighted the need for integrative care more than ever. As a global community, we are all still weathering the storm of COVID-19. This public health crisis has not only been devastating to those who contract the virus, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual health of everyone has been impacted during this time of great change. In June, we launched our COVID-19 Virtual Response, which included virtual clinics and integrative health practitioner panels to provide free care and support to over 1,000 individuals.
The 2020 fire season in California was just as unprecedented as everything else we experienced this year. The 4.2 million acres burned in 2020 are the most in a single year since CalFire began keeping records, and more than the last three years combined. We are grateful that despite the extra challenges posed by COVID-19, we were still able to provide free integrative care in person to over 200 fire survivors, first responders, disaster workers, and Latinx farmworkers throughout Northern California.
This past fire season clearly showed us that the psychological toll from the climate crisis is escalating, months of wildfire smoke is detrimental to the health of communities who are exposed, and integrative health and medicine helps fill a gap in care that is direly needed during and after a major wildfire. In 2021, in addition to preparing to run clinics during an acute response, IHAN is also growing our long-term recovery efforts in Sonoma County, Butte County, and Santa Cruz County with new programs that will provide ongoing care to first responders, Latinx farmworkers, and other members of these communities that are most in need. Additionally, we are excited to expand our Mind-Body Medicine and Mental Health programs to provide more tools and resources that help mitigate the psychological harm associated with the trauma of surviving a disaster and build resilience.
We are asking you to join our commitment to healing disaster-stricken communities. Please consider a donation to IHAN’s year-end campaign. Just $20 provides free integrative health services for someone who has faced the worst that this terrifying year had to offer.
Will you join us in supporting IHAN?
Jenny Harrow-Keeler, MA - Cofounder & Executive Director
Jen Riegle, ND - Cofounder & Medical Director