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A Word from Team Member Management

Kathy Ricker

Hello, Team Members,

I hope this newsletter finds you well and in good health.

Want to know more about Kathy?

In this edition, we focus on religious and cultural sensitivity. One of the key questions I ask while interviewing potential Team Members is “How comfortable are you interacting with people from different religions and cultures?” I use this question as a way to emphasize that potential Team Members could encounter customs, cultures and traditions that may be unfamiliar or different to them and also to determine if they have the ability to separate their personal beliefs in order to effectively handle diversity during a crisis. We do not want a Team Member working in a Family Assistance Center, or with survivors, if their own religious or cultural beliefs could cause those affected discomfort.

As an international company with global clients, religious and cultural sensitivity is integral to an efficient response. With nearly 2,000 Team Members spanning the globe, our Team Member program alone is made up of people from all walks of life and the clients who retain us are just as focused on promoting diversity. The incidents we respond to almost always involve multiple cultures and religions. This is why it is critical that we accept, understand and support all death rituals and religious traditions, as well as honor the value of different customs and cultures. We do not judge or consider a person’s actions as odd or strange nor can we allow our own deeply held beliefs to shape another’s recovery.

We do not expect every Team Member to know the customs of each religion or culture, as it could take years of study to be properly versed. We do, however, expect you to have an open mind and reserve judgments or prejudices. We require each Team Member to support and care for the affected families and to assure them that we are taking care of their loved one in their traditional ways.

This is incredibly important because in most cultures, it is the family’s responsibility to care for their loved one once they have passed. In most circumstances where Kenyon is involved, this is not possible, so we must do everything we can to demonstrate to these families that we are caring for their loved one as they would until we can facilitate the return of their loved ones.

To be sure, in a tragedy it may not always be possible to meet the cultural and religious needs of the deceased or their survivors. Kenyon Team Members work hard to first understand what those needs are and then, where it is not possible, to explain to the families - often with the assistance of the appropriate religious or cultural leader - what is being done to mitigate this as much as possible.

Religious and cultural sensitivity is something we should all strive for in our daily lives, not just on a deployment. Acceptance and understanding is the key to reducing hostilities and racial division in society. I encourage you all to be inquisitive about and open to differences in opinion or customs. Welcome the differences and take the time to understand and have respect for those that live by their traditions, customs and lifestyles different than our own. We all have something we can learn from each other!

It’s not about us during these times; it’s about respecting those that perished and those that survived.

For more information about religions and cultures, below are some suggested readings from the Kenyon Library:

Death and Bereavement Across Cultures
Death and Bereavement Across Cultures

Colin Muray Parkes, Pittu Laungani and Bill Young

How to be the Perfect Stranger
How to Be the Perfect Stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook
Arthur J. Magida and Stuart M Matlins

Give Sorrow Words
Give Sorrow Words, Perspectives on Loss and Sorrow
John H. Harvey

Death and Bereavement

Death and Bereavement, The Psychological and Religious Interfaces, Second Edition
Dewi Rees

Warmest Regards

Kathy Ricker
Team Member Manager