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Fostering Volunteer Resiliency

Oct 28, 2020 | Beth Hess

In a tornado response several years ago, Southwest Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Unit Leader Kristina Morris saw the need for breaks and relaxation among volunteers. Recalling that experience, when stay at home orders were issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, she was immediately concerned about the overall mental wellness of volunteers. Morris reached out to volunteers who are mental health professionals to create what would be known as the Resiliency Team.

Weekly since March the Resiliency Team has sent unit volunteers a mental wellness tip sheet with a focus on a particular issue. Topics have ranged from Grieving as a Community and Home School Challenges to Exercise and Sharing Good News. Each tip sheet shares a variety of resources from podcasts, to YouTube videos to professional articles. Some keys to success:

  • Each tip sheet has just one focus.
  • It is never more than one page long.
  • The tip sheet shares resources that already exist in a small, simple format.

To create each tip sheet, the team, which includes a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and licensed professional counselors with varying backgrounds, has a weekly 30-to-45 minute call to discuss possible topics and resources. Another volunteer (previously a Communication Specialist and now two work study students) handles writing and editing.

“As unit leader, you just can’t do the writing and editing yourself. Try to find someone you can hand it over to,” said Morris. Additional advice: don’t make the group too big; a small four-to five-person group ensures that all voices are heard.

The group recently transitioned from a weekly to a bi-weekly format for tip sheet distribution. Looking ahead, the Resiliency Team wants to set up a quiet or calm room when the unit assists with COVID-19 vaccination sites.

See examples of the unit’s “Self Care in 2020” tip sheets on their website.

Additional resources:


About Beth Hess

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