Santa Paula Times

City Council learns about SP Citizens Corps Divine Distractions for children

December 09, 2016
Santa Paula News

The City Council heard about a unique Santa Paula Citizens Corps program at the November 21 meeting: Divine Distractions for children.

The Citizens Corps and the Santa Paula Firefighters Association have teamed up to help children that might be caught in disaster by creating Divine Distractions emergency kits that will keep large groups entertained for hours — even for days, with or without other family members.

Representing Citizen Corps at the council meeting were founding and present Chairman Steve Lazenby and members Fire Chief Rick Araiza, Martha Brown, Samantha Frady, Peggy Kelly and Richard Rudman.

The council was reminded that FEMA has recognized Santa Paula Citizen Corps for Preparing the Whole Community for emergencies, a feather in the volunteer organization’s cap.

Citizen Corps participates in developing community emergency plans, conducts localized outreach and public education, offers training and participation in exercises, encourages volunteerism, and in the event of a disaster, forms an integral part of the response.

“Your Citizens Corps,” said Kelly, “fits the bill with programs ranging from the emergency notification door hanger project and firemen giving Trick or Treaters glow bracelets on Halloween,” to the annual Santa Paula Emergency Preparedness Fair, held each year at the September Cruise Night. 

Founded in 2006, the group meets monthly with members culled from the Santa Paula Fire and Police departments, American Red Cross, Santa Paula Unified School District, Neighborhood Watch, CERT, City Council, Ventura County Medical Reserve Corps, Santa Paula Ministerial Association and the Santa Paula Times, among others.

When it comes to Divine Distractions, a disaster can be especially scary scenarios for those most vulnerable in an emergency, children who would need distractions from the cold reality of disaster, trauma, separation and fear.

Tressa Saviers of Fillmore introduced the corps to Project Joy, a grassroots nonprofit that uses the power of play to heal and strengthen children whose lives have been deeply impacted by trauma — Divine Distractions grew from this concept. 

Four Divine Distraction kits are kept at the Las Piedras Park Police Storefront and have everything groups of children need to have fun, most importantly, what would be needed to distract them from or help them overcome trauma. Each duffle bag holds various play items even pennies that would calm children by having them count the number of coins. A parachute provides interaction and group play among the soothing folds of silk.

Also planned for Divine Distractions kits are index-carded response responsibilities, program activities and identification materials.

Santa Paula Citizen Corps is now seeking children coordinators to provide three areas of support, assessment, delegation of responsibility and materials/tools distribution. 

“Inside each Divine Distractions duffle bag are the tools — including hope — that will go a long, long way in helping our children deal with trauma,” and noted Kelly, “Volunteers are the last tool needed for Divine Distractions for our community’s children.”

Lazenby and Araiza answered council questions including an update on the Ready Santa Paula 1610 AM, local broadcasting system.

For more information about Divine Distractions, call Chief Araiza at 805-933-4254.