NewsTreasure CoastRegion St Lucie CountyFort Pierce


'Unity in the wake of disaster' sparks sisterhood

Posted at 6:07 PM, Sep 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-06 14:38:44-04

Susan Cannon, a part-time caregiver, recalls a stressful situation before the lead-up of Hurricane Dorian.

“I was very stressed out,” said Cannon. “I had many people to take care of and the prep was the worst ever.”

In addition to putting up hurricane shutters she also placed two wheel-chair bound clients in a Fort Pierce hotel to keep them safe. But her stress level has yet to fall. Cannon has spent many a nights offering support by phone to her co-worker, Shamara Knowles, a native of the Bahamas.

”She just came to mind and I just wanted to reach out and let her know I’m thinking of her,” said Cannon.

”She’s shown me so much love and passion and care and she’s been relentless. Very relentless,” said Knowles. “It’s heartfelt. And I can’t believe how much love and prayers people have been giving me. So many people have come forward to help islands that have been destroyed.”

Now Cannon and Knowles are spearheading a collection drive in Fort Pierce to help the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama islands impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

”Clothing and whatever else I can,” added Cannon.

This new sisterhood and bond isn’t a surprise according to psychotherapists. Unity in the wake of disaster is evident following the overwhelming humanitarian response to the people in the Bahamas. It’s a movement as seen during previous hurricanes or national disasters like 9/11 and shared traumatic events that bridge communities.

”Stress releases oxytocin. Oxytocin is our cuddle hormone - so when we end up having the cuddle hormone we want to band together,” said Jennifer Hoskins-Tomko, Clarity Health Solutions psychotherapist. “Our chemistry is saying bind together and help one another.”

Hoskins-Tomko also says tragedy can bring people together.

“What happens with tragedy is everybody is getting kicked out of their comfort zone,” she said.

Knowles and Cannon are proof.

”We’re going to get this done,” said Knowles.

Both women tell WPTV they’re motivated by their love for humanity to spearhead the collection drive at Prophetic Praise Ministries in Fort Pierce on August 7 at 9 am. They’re collecting gently used clothing, baby wipes, canned good, toiletries and dry goods. Last month the church gave away approximately 300 pairs of shoes and school supplies as part of the church’s Soles 4 Souls outreach program. They also provided food to 600 people.

“We believe we’ll touch hearts by touching hands,” said Dr. Michael J. Hill, Prophetic Praise Ministries senior pastor.