PARKLAND, FL - In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy, Melissa Kornhaus, a licensed mental health counselor, began receiving calls the next day from families in Parkland needing mental health intervention so she decided to spend the next week driving out and providing therapy in homes. That same day, there was a request for licensed therapists to provide services at crisis sites in Parkland.
Kornhaus said, "Many therapists were turned away upon arrival because they were not previously screened by the school district. I watched dozens of talented, frustrated professionals sit in a feeling of helplessness while others suffered in the next town over. I saw them interact in other local, Facebook pages and closed Facebook groups in which many of us in private practice are active. I knew we had to do something to mobilize these people to help them through their own trauma reactions and to meet what I knew would be massive mental health needs in the Parkland community."
Professionals United for Parkland was born.
"Professionals United for Parkland started with a closed Facebook group I quickly created, a Sunday afternoon meeting to determine what was needed in the community, and the continuous building of relationships with the professionals who are now serving as board members and volunteers through the Facebook group as well as multiple email chains that I received," Kornhaus said. "After being contacted by MSD alumni who had the financial resources and experiences to support what therapists like Luna Wolfe, Les Gordon and I were doing, I committed to forming an official non-profit and sticking this out to serve Parkland for years to come."
Today, Professionals United for Parkland (PU4P) has approximately 500 members in their closed Facebook group and a list of approximately 150 therapists the organization has cleared to provide pro-bono services through its referral system. Professionals United for Parkland can provide referrals for services including acute trauma interventions, long-term individual and group trauma and grief therapy, family therapy, couples therapy, pediatric care, and psychiatric treatment.
Kornhaus said, "I want people to feel empowered to help one another, and for the community of Parkland to feel supported by trusting, respectable professionals who want to serve with pure intentions and have the skills to do so. I want every singly human being to know that you truly have the power to make things happen, to make an impact and influence significant change…you just have to be courageous enough to speak out and passionate enough to commit to taking consistent action to create whatever it is that you want or feel called to do."
"I want people to experience the power of love and human connection and unconditional positive regard for all people…this is the core of therapy and the core of what we intend to do with PU4P. I want people to know that pain can be transformed into powerful growth. That by working together we can create alchemy and have something beautiful emerge…that story is being written every single day in Parkland, and I’m excited to see all of the individual and collective growth that comes from the recovery process," she said.
Regarding the Parkland community, Kornhaus said, "I hope that you all allow one another to have your own unique processes of working through this challenging time and trying to make sense of something so painful that happened in your home town. I hope that instead of battling and judging each other or the systems at play for any of this - - political views or emotional reactions or shortcomings or the decisions being made on individual and organizational levels - - I hope that you can choose to support and love one another throughout the years of healing that will come."
She said, "I want you to know that you will recover and you will be ok and you will grow and thrive out of this trauma and grief. I want you to know that we aren’t going anywhere, you are not alone. I hope you feel loved and supported and cared for, and in the moments when you don’t feel that way, and you’re angry because needs are being missed and mistakes are being made, know that we are still not going anywhere."
"Please be compassionate towards one another. Be forgiving of yourselves, too, for the ways you can or cannot function right now or a year from now. Be patient with yourselves and your community, embrace the journey of healing. It can be a beautiful and painful thing if you choose to see it that way," Kornhaus said.
Reflecting on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy and its aftermath, Kornhaus said, "My heart goes out to all of you who have been affected by the shooting, and we are committed to taking care of ourselves so that we can do our best to be there for you all. Please let us know if there are mental health needs that are being missed, and we will work to address them. Please become educated about trauma and grief so you know what to expect. can make sense of what’s happening with you and those you love, and can make informed decisions about how to take care of your mental health."
People in the helping professions can ask to join the closed facebook group Professionals United for Parkland. Their website www.pu4p.org will be fully functional in the next week. You can follow their public Facebook page, Twitter account, and YouTube channel.
Board Members of Professionals United for Parkland:
Melissa Kornhaus, LMHC, is an EMDR-trained Licensed Mental Health Counselor with a practice, NewVu (“new view”) Therapy, in east Delray Beach where she specializes in working with gifted young children and high-achieving professionals. She also helps entrepreneurs master work-life balance in order to have the time to enjoy their success with loved ones while scaling their businesses through a nationwide, online group coaching program, Hero at Home. Together with Buddhist marketing expert Adam Katzen, Melissa is currently launching Rebel Spirit Radio, a podcast on the integration of science and spirituality that exemplifies the process of transformation from knowledge to the implementation of daily practices. Melissa believes that in life there are no rules; anything is possible.
Lisa Zucker is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice. As a certified Thanatologist, she specializes her practice in grief and loss as well as providing the community with educational speaking engagements to help professionals learn more about the advancements that have been made in the grief field.
Shane Fedderman grew up in Parkland and graduated from Stoneman Douglas High in 1998. Shane has lived in Los Angeles since 2006, and worked in medical practice management and marketing for 10 years. During this time he also worked with several non-profit and volunteer groups including AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, LA Gay & Lesbian Center, and Impulse Group. Shane currently works as an independent marketing and design consultant, and has been heavily involved in the support of the Parkland community since the events at Stoneman Douglas.
Jennifer Bishop is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Boca Raton, FL. She obtained her Master's in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University and has her License in Mental Health Counseling in the state of Florida. Jennifer has over 15 years of experience working in a variety of settings such as outpatient clinics, residential group homes, foster care, hospitals and private practice. She has supervised teams of clinicians and developed group programs for children and families. Jennifer's goal is to build a s strong and trusting relationship with her clients that allows healing to occur. Jennifer's speciality is working with children and their parents, providing a safe and nurturing environment that allows for healing to occur inside of relationships. This allows children and families to soar above the troubles that face them, finding the happiness they long for. Her combination of deep compassion, sharp insight, patience and result-focused strategies leaves her clients feeling empowered, fulfilled and living their life's purpose.
Dr. Jennifer Lagrotte, DMFT, LMHC, LMFT is a marriage and family therapist that works and resides in Parkland, FL. She received her masters and doctorate from Nova Southeastern University and has been in practice since 2004. She specializes in couples including marriage, infidelity and empty nest couples therapy. She is currently going through the certification of The Gottman Method. She works to strengthen communication, intimacy, conflict resolution and brings couples closer together as quickly as possible.
Judith Aronson-Ramos, M.D., is a Board Certified Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrician. Her medical practice is devoted exclusively to the evaluation and treatment of pediatric patients with challenges in learning, behavior, development, and social-emotional functioning. Dr. Aronson-Ramos has been in practice for over 30 years and she is acutely aware of the need for individualized and comprehensive care for children and families provided in a supportive and compassionate setting.
Luna Medina-Wolf is a licensed mental health counselor and a master certified addiction professional. Luna specializes in helping people heal from traumatic events and lead a healthier, happier, and more balanced life. Luna is trained in trauma techniques such as EMDR and TIR and is fluent in Hebrew and Spanish. Luna believes change is possible and that each person has the power to learn the skills needed to better their lives.
Les Gordon, M.A. is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has worked in the South Florida area for over 30 years. Les specializes in treating children and adolescents who exhibit emotional and behavioral issues. He also works with children who have special needs and enjoys helping parents to become more effective. Les is a Diplomate Sexologist with the America Board of Sexology. In overlapping careers in education and mental health, Les founded and directed private school programs for children with learning disabilities. Les has presented close to 100 community based talks relating to his areas of interest. In 1978 Les was recognized as the Merle Kauffman Scholar at Bradley University, designating Les as the outstanding student in the College of Education.