April 6-12, 2014 is National Volunteer Week.
Meet some of the inspiring CMAT volunteers who help us fulfil our missions in communities around the world!
April 8, 2014 – Dr. Jeanne LeBlanc, PhD – Registered Psychologist
Born and raised in Florida, which provides annual opportunities for large scale disasters, and with a father who worked for the Department of Emergency Management for the State, Jeanne was predestined towards being drawn to disaster response. Now living in Canada, Jeanne had been involved with disaster behavioral health and medically-focused international relief work for a number of years with many American-based organizations, and was completing her second deployment to Haiti, immediately post-earthquake.
A graduate student who had also participated in the second trip was very interested in finding a Canadian NGO to volunteer with – one which had a solid medical focus and an investment in working closely with the locals. Together, they discovered CMAT and the rest, as they say, is history! “I find CMAT’s focus on providing meaningful response to communities in need, coupled with their willingness to provide supports at all levels to their volunteers, refreshing and motivating,” remarks Jeanne.
At the time of the Japanese earthquake and Tsunami, Jeanne very much wanted to deploy, was unable to for health reasons. “CMAT instead involved me here at home, helping to provide behind the scenes support to the deploying teams,” Jeanne recalls. Through technology (telephone, internet, etc), Jeanne was able to be directly involved with pre-deployment briefings, allowing her the privilege and opportunity to “meet” the top-notch groups who deployed. She provided basic supports as needed during the deployment, and also welcomed the returning groups back to Canada once their deployments were completed. “While I can’t say that this is as good as going, as I still was wishing I had gone, it was a testament to CMAT’s vision of providing full team support, consistent with the most current guidelines and standards for disaster deployments.” Jeanne plays an integral part in CMAT’s member wellness program.
Jeanne enjoys spreading the message of CMAT to her American colleagues — many of whom have voiced a desire to deploy, should the opportunity arise, as the mandate for action is most appealing to them. “My family remains supportive, yet sometimes mystified, by my excitement at getting the chance to go into areas which most people would prefer to flee. As for me, I find provision of disaster behavioral health one of the most rewarding things I have done in my career. I am not there to be anyone’s therapist, but rather the one person who has the time to hold the hand of someone in pain, teach someone how to take relaxing breaths to help them sleep, or reassure them that they are just having a normal reaction to abnormal events.”
Jeanne completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and then specialized in Rehabilitation Neuropsychology. In 2004, she and her husband sailed their boat up the Pacific Coast from San Diego to Vancouver, where she now has a private practice focusing on the assessment and rehabilitation of issues related to brain injury.
To apply to volunteer with CMAT, please visit www.canadianmedicalteams.org/volunteer