When a community is faced with a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, environmental disaster, or gun violence, it can be an incredibly difficult and challenging time. Community resilience is key to supporting those who have been individually affected by the traumatic event and ensuring that everyone, even those not directly affected, have access to the resources they need to recover. It is important for community members to come together to provide emotional, physical, and psychological support to individuals and organizations during this time.

In times of a natural disaster, those with the fewest resources take much longer to recover, so it is imperative that efforts are made to reach deep into the communities and neighborhoods that are most vulnerable. And, because relationships are the key to quickly bringing resources into communities, building trusting relationships BEFORE a disaster is critical.

Community organizations should create safe spaces where people can talk openly about their experiences with trauma, as well as provide information on how best to cope with its effects. Support groups help individuals process their emotions while providing them with a sense of belonging and understanding. If they come together to help one another, communities can become stronger after traumatic events.

Multi-Sector Coalitions

A multi-sector coalition is a group of systems that has come together to find solutions to a problem. Throughout North Carolina, there are more than 40 county or community-based multi-sector coalitions to address ACEs, trauma, and resilience. Some are well-established and have a paid coordinator, regular meetings, leadership structures, and the support of a backbone agency. Other coalitions are only beginning to raise awareness of the science of ACEs, trauma, and resilience.

These coalitions increase communication, collaboration, and momentum through a shared vision about how to:

    • Raise awareness about trauma and resilience,
    • Shift power dynamics related to decision-making and leadership,
    • Foster collaboration and coordination among agencies and residents,
    • Create and implement practice and program components that are trauma and asset-informed,
    • Advocate for changes to policies and regulations that address adversity and promote resilience,
    • Increase financial and community investments to support resilience-related efforts,
    • Leverage community power and local expertise.

Inspired by SAMHSA’s “Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach” and ABLe Systems Change, this theory of change framework serves as a model for emerging and existing coalitions across North Carolina. More information about this model can be found in the Landscape Analysis Building Healthy and Resilient Communities One Community at a Time (

Multi-sector coalitions and cross-sector collaborations are essential components of any successful response effort. Multi-sector coalitions bring together multiple agencies from government, business, health care, education, law enforcement, etc., while cross-sector collaborations involve different sectors within a particular organization or community working together. Each approach has its own unique advantages, and it is important that communities consider both when responding to traumatic events. By working collaboratively across sectors and organizations in the wake of tragedy or disaster we can ensure that our responses are comprehensive and meaningful.


Connect with others (professionals and community members) from across the state who are working in this field for a monthly virtual gathering. Live interpretation in Spanish is available. Monthly Peer Connections happen on the third Wednesday of every month from Noon – 1:30. To receive an invitation to this and our monthly newsletter, send an email to