Emotional and Spiritual Care Workers Provide Hope When Disasters Strike

by Caroline Franks

Since the inception of The Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) in 1917, after the devastating Halifax Explosion, millions of people have been helped in Ontario through EDS’s Emotional and Spiritual Care (ESC) support.

“Emotional and Spiritual Care is an essential part of our overall Emergency Disaster Services. We provide people with hope during times in their lives when the light at the end of the tunnel is bleak,” said Salvation Army Major Roxzena Hayden, Divisional Emergency Disaster Services Steering Committee member. “We extend our hand through conversation and consoling and we are the shoulder to lean on during these difficult times.”

This important service is based upon the premise that within each of us, there is a spiritual knowledge and understanding, maybe best described as a spiritual nature.

“An Emotional and Spiritual Care worker taps into that spiritual nature, regardless of a person’s affiliation with a church or religion. Emotional and Spiritual Care is not part of what we do; it is what we do in every service we provide,” said Major Hayden.

ESC includes spiritual comfort and emotional support to those impacted by an incident, their families, as well as emergency first-responders coping with the stress of a disaster. ESC volunteers comfort the injured and bereaved, conduct memorial services, and provide chaplaincy services. Emotional and Spiritual Care respects all faiths and traditions.

“When The Salvation Army arrives and we provide our Emotional and Spiritual Care support, those devastated families begin to smile” – Major Hayden

The Salvation Army Ontario Division’s Emotional and Spiritual Care workers have helped in numerous disasters, including the flooding in Ottawa, the ice storm in Eastern Ontario, a tornado in Midland and even during the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Panama City, Florida.

“We always answer the call, and we never turn anyone away,” said Major Hayden. “I’ve attended to many disasters, witnessed many individuals and families devastated because they’ve lost a loved one or their home. When The Salvation Army arrives and we provide our Emotional and Spiritual Care support, those devastated families begin to smile.”

To register as a volunteer and to learn more about ESC program visit


By: Bill Canning