Combating the 3 Month Slump


So hello again everyone, I’d like to now officially welcome you to today’s webinar, Combating the Three Month Slump. I’m Jessica Burch with the Corporation for National and Community Service, and I’ll be the host for today’s webinar. I’ll also be facilitating the live Q and A at the end of the session. Also joining us are Rachael Radick and Jenny Farrell, from our partners at Education Northwest, who have helped to prepare today’s webinar, and will be managing the WebEx technology. You’ll see them in the chat and Q and A to help address questions you may have during the session. So, what do we hope you learn today from this session? First, we hope that you can identify and discuss what a VISTA slump is, the signs of a slump and signals that one may be coming. We’re also going to help you learn how to facilitate coaching conversations with your VISTA members that matter and can hopefully get them out of a slump, or maybe avoid one if one’s on its way. And last, we also want to discuss a number of strategies to assist VISTAs with slump recovery. So that’s why we’re all here, a lot of you want to prevent the slump, a lot of you have VISTA members who are in it right now and want to get your VISTA members out of it. So we hope to give you some strategies to assist your VISTA members. So I’d now like to welcome our main speakers for today: First is Ginlin Woo. Ginlin is a consultant, curriculum designer, facilitator, and trainer. She has served as both a VISTA member, supervisor, and the former co-director of the National Human Relations and Diversity Training and Technical Assistance Center for the Corporation for National and Community service. Gin is also the Pacific Cluster Regional Training Leader for AmeriCorps VISTA. In this capacity, she oversees facilitation of pre-service orientation for VISTA members, and orientation for supervisors in the ten states of the west. We also have with us Shannen Keene. Shannen was a VISTA member from July 2016 to July 2017, and served as as a CASA of Yellowstone County’s first AmeriCorps VISTA. Her term of focus around the disproportionality of Native American children in the foster care system. She is now a graduate of Montana State University, pursuing a master’s degree in health and human development. We also have with us Rhea Johnson. Rhea is a current AmeriCorps VISTA leader, serving the Fairbanks North Star Borough. She supports five VISTA members, and this is her second year serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA. Very excited to have them all here with us today, so now to get us started I’m going to turn it over to Gin. She’s going to share a little bit more about her experience. Gin, take it away. Thank you, Jessica. Good day, everyone, I’m really happy to be joining you all for this important conversation. Today I’m speaking to you from a cool and gray Seattle, Washington, and I can tell you that via my three and a half terms of service as a VISTA in Brooklyn, New York, I’ve learned a lot about being a VISTA and supporting VISTAs. So we’re really happy that we’re focusing on this particular conversation, ’cause I assure you that three month VISTA service slump is real; that supervisors could be a definite helper in slump mitigation and recovery; and if left unaddressed, slump can lead to early withdrawal from service. I can already tell from the chat panel and from the questions that you responded to at the beginning of this sign-up, you said many of you are aware of slump or are getting aware of slump, so to begin with, we’d like to hear from you. Please enter your ideas in the chat box, and make sure you send to all participants. So the question is what comes to mind when you think of having service slump? We want your comments to be visible to everyone, so please be sure to enter them through the chat panel and not the Q and A panel further down in the screen. If you are on a mobile device, you’ll find the chat feature at the bottom of the participant panel. Jessica, what are we getting? Thank you Gin, so items are starting to roll in, we have Chason here says exhaustion, we also hear from Patrice, loneliness, we also see loss of passion or lack of motivation, there’s also a lack of direction and engagement with the site and project. Reduced energy, kind of goes along with exhaustion, loss of interest, that seems to be a reoccurring theme here in the chat. Bethany also said I think of the overwhelm that comes from the full realization of the scope of the project, which Gin I know you’re going to talk about later, it can be a little overwhelming when you start. Um, not feeling your impact is another one. That can be hard as a VISTA member, you know you want to see quick results and sometimes it’s hard to see that. Cristobal also says a struggle with living on a tight budget and realizing that you just started your term. Yeah, at this point they’re only a quarter of the way through, they still have the majority of their time left. We also see a lack of engagement with others, maybe their VISTA leader, their supervisor. And yeah, just a lot of lulls, and we also have here, Daniel says, the Pacific Northwest winter weather: dark, rainy, and gloomy. I know, Gin, you’re in the Pacific Northwest, Jenny and Rachael are as well, I guess Rhea you’re way up in the Pacific Northwest, there in Fairbanks. The last one here we’ll touch on before I turn it back over to you, Gin, is a lot of anxiety and loss of confidence in the project. Yeah, these are all some, not good things, but these are definitely signs of a slump. So Gin, back to you. Thank you, Jenny can we turn on to the Cycle of Service in our slide? So this may be familiar to some of you, we use it in PSO and in supervisor orientation. But it depicts how the cycle of service is experienced by many of you. We know from our collective experience that most VISTAs will experience the ups and downs of a typical one-year service assignment. Service really ebbs and flows as each VISTA finds their rhythm and stride. This experience is very often marked by phases of enthusiastic beginner, then a person having second thoughts, disillusioned learner, and then the movement from cautious contributor to more confident contributor, and lastly, if all goes as planned, our VISTAs hit their stride and they’re performing at their peak. The three month slump really refers to the phase when the member has become the disillusioned learner. They’re having second thoughts, their enthusiasm begins to wane, and they have become exhausted, just as many of you have mentioned in the chat panel. Today’s presentation focuses on how as the supervisor you can help your members to successfully overcome the challenges of that phase of service. As a learning community, I think you did a really pretty good job of tagging different aspects of slump, and so we’re going to try to see how we can set up a whole framework to understand it and address it. Slump, it looks a particular way, it feels a particular way, it sounds and impacts in a particular way, and I want to just kind of review a couple of those things. So with the next slide, we’ll tag into that slump has physical signs. And they can be a range of things, it can be headaches or sleep difficulties. And feel free in the chat panel to keep adding if you would like some of the physical signs. They also have attitudinal signs. And it could be a sign, or just persistent negativity, or it could look like indifference. There are also emotional signs. It could look like continuous feelings of sadness. Or present itself as cynicism or pessimism. They also show in mental outlook. So the VISTA may be less efficient with service assignments. Or they’re having difficulty focusing or concentrating. Slump can also present itself in relationships. So the relational signs are maybe temper outbursts, or withdrawing from colleagues, or failing to connect with community members. I think in the pre-assessment somebody did mention that, about connection with community members. The performance signs present itself comparable to overload or burnout, so those of us who have experienced overload or burnout, I think that we can see that slump is very similar. And now I’d actually like to turn to our first guest speaker, Shannen Keene, who can share with us her own experience surviving the three month slump. Shannen? Thanks, Gin, hello everyone and thank you for being with us today. I’m really excited to share my experience. So I served at CASA of Yellowstone County in good old Billings, Montana, and for those of you who don’t know, or aren’t familiar with CASA, so CASA are volunteer advocates for abused and neglected children, and act kind of as the eyes and the ears of the court system. So during my term there were two main issues that I had to combat, which the first one is overrepresentation of Native American children in the child welfare system, and then two, the fact that our organization didn’t have any representation this population. So my main focus was to enhance CASA’s capability in serving these children in a culturally appropriate way, which is a huge task, so my VAD included, because I was the first VISTA, an initial assessment of their recruitment, retention, diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence, so based off that I designed a recruitment plan, and then my last two quarters revolved around the implementation and evaluation of that recruitment plan. So my three month slump occurred mainly because I had so many ideas and was readier for a change after my assessment and meeting with people, so as Gin will discuss my rose-colored glasses came off and I realized that my organization was at a different readiness level than I was. So I was ready to make these really drastic, quote unquote drastic changes, and kept coming up with barriers. For example, I was trying to incorporate suggestions from all the Native stakeholders I had met with, while still maintaining the organizational culture. Ultimately I was left discouraged, and kind of always entering interactions with my staff already looking for resistance. So to handle the slump, I received support from other VISTA members in my community, so I really, I’m the type of person that likes to vent and connect with people. I also give credit to Shaden Silver, who’s amazing, the sole alum that we worked with, my program worked with specifically. She reminded me that the majority of conflict arises from the issues in the organization structure, and it’s not necessarily a personal attack on me, so really reframing what I was going through. And then to stay motivated, I created a visual representation of kind of like my VAD and all of my feelings, I didn’t know how to portray it and this is the best way I could come up with. It really helped me see the bigger picture and how it was connected and how I fit into that. And then I visited with the Native American stakeholders in my community, and their insight really encouraged a shift in my perspective, and then I participated in webinars and trainings, this was key to feeling and being productive for me. And then for supervisors, I recommend really ensuring a safe and honest space for communication, and with me, they, the group might not always come to you, or feel comfortable coming to you because they don’t want to disappoint you. So bring the emotion back into conversation and approach them. And then I think the biggest thing that I’ve really honed in on in my life and in my VISTA term is really advocating for their wellbeing. So in all aspects of the word, including physical, mental, intellectual, especially financial, so check in with your VISTA member to make sure they’re practicing self-care, and work with them so you’re able to ensure that they have the space to do so. For example, that might include allowing them to take half a day in the week, and make up the hours later in the pay period, or even encouraging walks during their lunch break. But thank you again, I appreciate the opportunity to share my experience, and hope that it can aid you in your supervision. Back to you, Gin. Thank you, Shannen. Let’s talk briefly about what does happen if slump goes unaddressed. There are really a number of potential consequences. One being that this just could take both a physical and a mental health nose dive. We’ve witnessed what those physical and mental crashes or falling aparts look like, and this could happen. Another consequence if we don’t address it is delayed recovering time. In general in their experience is that our VISTAs will recover, but with help it just happens more quickly, and without help it will just take much longer. Another indicator, if it goes unaddressed, is really diminished VAD focus and productivity. A VISTA, depending on their period of slump, they may not be able to complete their VAD with as much efficiency or effectiveness without some help. And finally, what we’re really trying to prevent by providing aid with 90 day slump, is for our VISTAs not to request early termination. So in considering why slump occurs, we can identify at least three major reasons. One, that reality sets in, and as Shannen referred to, the rose-colored glasses; exhaustion, 90 days of service can be really exhausting, and the third one, related to the pressure, the time, the cycle clock is ticking. But before we actually detail each one of those reasons and look at some tips for addressing them, I want to offer up some overarching ideas to help your members with the experience. Slump is just a natural occurrence in a one-year national service commitment. Anyone who has made either a national service or Peace Corps commitment can attest to the fact that slump happens. But we also know, is each person is different, and that slump may occur earlier than the third month period or a little later, but for the vast majority of members it will occur. I mentioned to you that I did three and a half terms of service, and I experienced it at least three times. Lastly, the reasons for slump are often overlapping. It’s not just usually one reason, but it’s a combination of things that come together. So now let’s look at each of the reasons why slump occurs, and some strategies that we’d like to offer up, or tips. Around the 90 day mark, reality sets in and the honeymoon is over, and the rose-colored glasses are either off, or they’re beginning to slip off. Understandably for many the living allowance and the realities of living on it can be very challenging. And where it might have been in the early days novel, now it’s real and it’s often a constant hurdle. As well, the anti-poverty organizational development infrastructure enhancement work that VISTAs are charged to do is complex and challenging. As our VISTAs build their awareness of their context and the history of their sponsoring community, they’re often by month three more awake to how complicated building capacity to fight poverty can be. Let’s look at some tips to help your VISTA through this hurdle. We really believe in coaching conversations and the power of them, and we really encourage you to continue to have conversation, engage the VISTAs in these one-on-one conversations. With the coaching conversations, you’re able to not only affirm your VISTAs and what they’re going through, and validate them, but to really lend your ear and actively listen. I think that during some VISTAs can feel very alone, and so the opportunity to be really heard is really important. Also with your coaching conversation, you can offer words of encouragement and just affirm how they’re feeling, what they’re about, what’s going on for them. Third, in terms of just feeling frustrated, inadequate, or depressed, just having the opportunity to be validated in that, and to normalize it, to let folks know that it’s okay, whatever they’re feeling, whatever they’re thinking, is okay and normal and part of service. I think that as any one of us has experienced, when you feel like you’re a little bit going crazy or you’re alone in this, I think the normalizing is just so important, just to let folks know, you’re not crazy and this is just natural. Another thing is that with our coaching conversations we’re able to get our VISTAs to think through and talk through and talk out what they’re experiencing, and I think the slump recovery happens a whole lot better when a VISTA is able to talk it through and have a caring supervisor listen to them. I think another part about coaching conversations is, it’s a good place to remind our VISTAs that they’re resilient, and that they can draw upon their reserves of resiliency. That in their life before VISTA, there were challenges they were confronted with, that they were able to meet those challenges with their resiliency, and that their reserves are there and they should tap into them and they’ll be okay. The second reason for slump, a major reason, is just exhaustion. 90 days of concentrated anti-poverty capacity building VISTA service can be pretty fatiguing. We know that with our early emergency responders, they often experience what’s called compassion fatigue. Without rest and relief, volunteers focused on helping can become overwhelmed and exhausted. We’ve witnessed this experience of exhaustion also for our VISTAs. Some of them have been at it fast and furious. From the beginning of their service they’ve been focused on extending concentrated hours, caring about deep issues, without rest and time to rejuvenate. And also, many of our VISTAs have had to leave their former life, traverse and navigate many personal changes and transitions, so the psychosocial adjustments off of their former life, identity possibly, place, routine, role, relationships, et cetera, can at the three month marker be something that begins to take its toll. So one of the tips that we’d like to offer is really engaging your VISTAs in conversations about self-care, and help the VISTAs facilitate their realigning and rebalancing. Many of the VISTAs may not have, may not be as healthy as they could be during this period. They’ve possibly neglected parts of their wellness routine, that usually helps keep them strong and well-adjusted and just feeling grounded. Supervisors can engage their VISTAs in conversations about self-care and maintaining as best they can a life in balance. Their imbalances can either be mental, physical, social, cultural, or spiritual. I think that supervisors can help provide support and guidance to achieve a life in balance by sharing your own practices with self-care, and maybe even your own struggles with self-care. So what we’re suggesting and what we know to be helpful is just these gentle reminders to our VISTAs about getting sleep, exercise, good nutrition, maybe some play, relaxation, cultural and mindful practices or opportunities, or opportunities to learn a new skill or content area. What we know is that VISTAs come to service with lots of good habits, but they may have sacrificed some of them just to do a service, so gentle reminders would be helpful in just supporting the rebalancing. The third reason has to do with the VAD clock ticking. It is really an increased pressure to be successful. By 90 days, for most of the VISTAs and the community and the organization they’re serving, there’s an understanding that orientation time is somewhat over, and now there’s expectations for our VISTAs to perform. So there’s increased pressure to facilitate change, progress or impact. And I know that when you start a year of service, you feel like, wow, you have quite a bit of time ahead of you, and then by 90 days it starts to speed up quite a bit, and you start feeling the pressure of the time clock ticking. And also, I think that what adds to the pressure is that community change takes time, and the VISTAs are going into their awareness about just how long that can take, and against the VAD clock it seems to be ticking very very loud. Our tip, then, for the clock ticking, is to turn to the VAD and help facilitate a really solid review of where we are with the VAD. And that review could include and should include acknowledgements of early successes. I think that it’s very easy for our VISTAs to kind of feel down on themselves for accomplishing what they have and knowing there’s so much more to do, so I think that a VISTA really benefits from hearing those successes in context, and that we’re headed in the right direction. That there’s benchmarks and milestones, and we definitely have all of that going on. Another thing is to discuss with our VISTAs what’s not going on so well. I think the more that it feels like a shared experience as opposed to the VISTA’s in it by him or herself or theirself, it’s really important to just kind of tag so what needs addressing? I think that context is a critical word in this VAD support. Reviewing the VAD progression could be a real useful thing, just where we’ve come, where we’re headed, and does that still make sense. So the discussion around correcting or amending our shared understanding of what needs to happen with the VAD could be very helpful. Lastly, when you’re focusing on the VAD, here’s the opportunity to provide some VAD aid, to share brainstorm, to offer up other ideas. You may have a fresh look on it, and maybe the VISTAs have hit a wall or a barrier, and with your help you’ll be able to see other possibilities. And if we’re at the three month mark and VAD service is really off track, this is really a time to provide some real corrective action. Some VISTAs we hear from, this has been a real critical time and with the help of the supervisor we can bring it back on track. Another thing is that at the 90 day period, whether you’re on track or not on track, sometimes it helps to sit with my supervisor, your supervisor, their supervisor, to really project forward. So let’s look at the next month or so and let’s detail it out, and maybe that guidance, that direction, that clarity can be really helpful in terms of VAD aid. Thank you, Gin, so we just talked about some of the three main reasons that we that we have VISTA members go through a slump. And some of you VISTA supervisors I know are very new, some of you are more seasoned, so for those of you that have experienced, or had a VISTA who’s experienced a slump, how have you helped your VISTA members when they’ve done that? Gin provided some great tips and strategies to help your VISTA members overcome some of those things, but you may have other ones as well. So what has worked for you? Let us know in the chat, let your fellow VISTA supervisors know in the chat, you are some of the best resources for one another so we want to hear from you how you’ve helped your VISTA members when they’ve experienced a slump. So as you take time to think about that and put that in the chat, we’re now going to move to our next guest speaker, who’s Rhea, who’s a currently serving VISTA leader, so keep typing your stuff in the chat, and we’re going to turn it over to Rhea. Rhea, let us know your experience with the slump. Yeah, totally. I’d love to give a shout out to Julia and Kammie on the line, I got to learn with them at our VISTA leader training and thanks everybody for joining us. So I served my first VISTA year in Denver, Colorado, at Green Leaf, a youth leadership program and urban garden. My member activities included grant writing and tracking systems, volunteer recruitment, and building a social presence, social media presence, and much more. By three months into my service, I began to feel I had not helped the organization at all. I was helping the executive director with a grant tracking system. I have a passion for the organization and their work, but no grant writing experience. After months of not hearing back about our applications, I began to feel frustrated that I wasn’t helping the organization build capacity, which was a huge part of my VAD. My supervisor and I were the only full-time people at the organization, and he was a very busy guy. He often checked in on me as we sat three feet away from each other, however, I brought it upon myself to step up and offer to do more outreach. My supervisor then suggested I start reaching out to communities, community organizations and businesses for smaller, local fundraising. I researched local bakeries, breweries, restaurants, to see if they’d be interested in doing a share of proceeds, whether it be for one night or the entire month. It gave me the instant gratification I was used to, while also benefiting the organization. Now as a VISTA leader in Fairbanks, Alaska, the Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor’s Office, it can be, which can be difficult serving up here, with the extreme climate change, there’s another opportunity for another add-on for folks that face a three month slump. So some things that I’ve done when I’ve seen my VISTAs kind of falling into that is provide several different opportunities for them to get out in the community. All of our VISTAs are from the lower 48, and so that makes it a bit harder, not being from the community. So there’s some organizations and groups, like the Fairbanks Young Professionals Council, they meet monthly and have different trainings, and I always encourage the VISTAs to join any networking coalition meetings, any opportunities they have outside of the monthly meeting that we have. And sometimes the opportunity just to pick a new training at our monthly meeting can really spark the interest back into their service. At the beginning of my VISTA leader service, one of my VISTAs had served about three and half months by the time I had started, and we were conducting weekly site visits. And every week he had the same complaints: he didn’t have enough to do, he didn’t exactly know who his supervisor was, and he was really unsure on how to address these issues. So we sat down and went over his VAD, I brought my supervisor in on it, and we also brought his supervisor in on it, and spoke about his concerns just to flat out address them right up front, and figured out how we can make the rest of his service better. We had to amend the VAD, a lot of things changed, the organization lost a lot of funding that regarded his activities, and so I began attending some of the meetings that he went to, just to be an extra center of support. This VISTA was in a slump for a while, and his supervisor wasn’t aware. Therefore some tips I have for the supervisors is to check in on your VISTA regarding their VAD. Build a healthy professional relationship with them. Commit to meetings once a week. Encourage them to attend staff meetings. And most of all remember that this may be their first office experience, so help them understand your organization’s office culture, and just keep in mind that this is an opportunity for them to grow as well. So, thanks for joining us, and I’ll send it back over to Jenny. Thanks for sharing your story and service and tips, Rhea, great ideas. So while VISTAs are very resourceful, during the three month slump it may be very helpful for supervisors to simply remind their VISTAs that there are many different kinds of resources to support them in their recovery. And some of the ideas that we have are organizational resources, it could be workout facilities, local workshops or trainings, different colleagues with different counseling skills, or folks that can help them with their VAD needs. Examples of kind of community based resources, it could be local classes, it could be cultural events, social and service groups, sister non-profits, gathering places and repositories for community information or cultural information, or recreational areas. Some of the examples of print resources we team up with were it could be inspirational reads, or issue area information, or self-care guides, or some really great books that helped you through some difficult times. We can also keep looking to the web and the internet to find resources, whether it’s TED Talks, or advocacy groups or blog groups. Also there are definitely national service resources. There’s always the campus, and there are PSO cohort members, they can either connect to their Blend community, or if they attended the classic PSO, the folks that they went through PSO with are another kind of resource. The VISTA cafe, also the VISTA map, and local alumni that they could engage with. We know that you’ve done a lot to rally resources, so we’d like to invite you right now to use the chat box to share some of the resources that you’ve used to support your VISTAs through the three month slump, and Jessica will help me with kind of reviewing what folks are offering up in terms of resources. Thank you, Gin, and a lot of people are starting to put things in about the resources that they’ve used, I want to go back to the question that we asked about how’ve you helped your VISTA members who experienced a slump in the past, because we have a lot of great responses here. Just to read out a few of what some of you have done, it looks like, there’s a lot here, I’m scrolling up here, Julie here says that she encourages her VISTAs to have monthly lunches or get togethers to talk. Also Kansas City has a strong alliance of VISTAs in the area, so if you’re lucky enough to be in an area where there’s a lot of VISTA members, definitely encourage them to connect with one another. Bethany said regular check-ins, coaching conversations focused on successes, strategizing about next steps, block planning for the specific objective, to refocus on the VAD. So really takes that time to do that check-in, to kind of come back and make sure that those VAD’s focus areas are in alignment with what the VISTA member’s doing. A lot of you also do a very tailored thing to your VISTA members, which is great. Bethany also said that she does, she asks specifically what she as a supervisor can do to help achieve, help the VISTA member achieve their goals and objectives. So they do those sorts of things. A lot of you had expressed an importance of self-care with your VISTA members, so that’s wonderful. A lot of great things here. As we mentioned in the beginning, we’re going to compile all of your great suggestions, tips, tricks, all of it, and we’re going to give that to you in about a week from now. We will make sure that you have all of this. But to go back to this question that we’re on right now, about what resources do you use, a lot of you are posting in here, there’s a lot of self-care, articles about self-care, kind of what Gin had mentioned. There’s also articles about how to tell your boss that you have too much work. We do have a webinar actually this Thursday called managing up, for our VISTA members. That’s really about navigating that VISTA-supervisor relationship, so Kinesha that’s a great segue to that webinar that we’re going to advertise here in just a little bit. Nudge your VISTA members to participate in that. Also, they connect with other VISTA leaders or community events, so a lot of different resources coming in from you all, so keep ’em coming, and Gin, I’m going to turn it back over to you. Okay, thank you, Jessica. Before we sign off, I want to talk about prevention, ’cause prevention does matter, and just some reminders, this overlaps with what people have been putting in the chat panel, but remember that we are seeding through PSO and OSOT, the conversations about slump and the awareness of it. So at PSO and on the online Blend, we talk about the cycle of service and what it looks like, and hopefully supervisors are reinforcing those concepts when you’re facilitating onsite orientation and training. Because we really believe that the more aware that VISTAs are of the possibility of slump or that the slump will happen, they can then, when they need it, be ready or be more ready, and also at least have a feeling that this is just a normal part of service. Also that you’re spending time during onsite orientation and training throughout to just coach gently that encouragement to maintain balance, you know that’s so important that whatever habits they have in their lives to help them maintain a sense of wellness, that they should definitely in their VISTA service maintain those, and even add on to them different practices, it will just help them. So what we want you to keep in mind is that slump recovery is more manageable if our VISTAs know that it will happen. It’s not their fault, it’s not a sign of weakness or deficit, it is a natural occurrence, it’s not a problem, instead it’s a signal to VISTA and supervisor alike that the service commitment is being taken seriously, and it’s time, possibly, to get some rest, rejuvenate, retool, or reconnect. We know that humans are resilient, and people have different reserves of resiliency. Every person who comes to service already has a history of bouncing back from many different kinds of adversities and challenges. Strategies that help them regain their footing emotionally, and mentally, and spiritually, and physically are things that apply also to VISTA service, especially for the three month slump. A supervisor can be helpful by reminding their VISTAs about prior triumphs over challenges, and that they have resiliency and reserves, and that they have a number of strategies that they’ve used in the past that have served them well. We really believe that with time and care, most people bounce back. So if I’m reassured and affirmed, and I am offered caring words, the recovery from slump happens. And while we know that VISTAs probably on their own will recover, we deeply believe that with the benefit of a caring, compassionate and competent supervisor that is slump-informed, that it can even happen more smoothly. I’m just curious to hear, what are some prevention care that other supervisors have used with their VISTA members? If you’d like to share some of your ideas, please use the chat panel again. Thank you, Gin, a lot of feedback as you were talking about different things that VISTA supervisors do. One thing that I do want to point out, because I want to go to it, is that Jackie, I hope I’m pronouncing that right, said that their VISTAs all get together weekly, and they’re also encouraged to join other meetings in the area to make new contacts and friends. They say that they want to make sure that when they, this supervisor wants to make sure that when the VISTA members need something that they can’t afford that they can hopefully get it donated and provided for them. We also have a very giving community, and my knowledge of service providers or donors can help the VISTAs feel cared for while they’re here. They try to make them feel like family, and they’re getting ready to take a trip to the ocean and the Grand Canyon this winter, so I know where I’m going to serve as a VISTA member, ’cause I want to go there. But it’s really, you really are touching on something, Jackie, about wanting to make them feel at home. A lot of them relocate to serve, and maybe they haven’t relocated to serve, but they’re new to this kind of work, and they really just need some support. So that’s wonderful, and that can really go a long way towards prevention of other things that may come up, that loneliness, or those relationship slump signs that Gin spoke about. But keep ’em coming, let us know what other prevention methods that you have found helpful, and Gin you’re going to go ahead now and talk about a couple concrete steps that people can take after this webinar. Yeah, well, winding down our webinar, and I just want to offer up a couple of things. One, first, just deep thank you for being such a caring support to our VISTA community. We don’t get to connect all the time with supervisors and we just so appreciate all the efforts that you put forth, and particularly, and also, nature and crafting help me, so I just saw that Kinesha wrote that, and that’s a strategy I often use. But concrete steps, we gave some thought to what we could offer you up in terms of okay, just from this place forward, what are some things, concrete things that you as supervisors can do if say, you have an hour? What we’re thinking is that you would definitely check in with your VISTAs, and engage them in a conversation about combating 90 day slump, no matter what. And I have to say, that the information we have related to 90 day slump, it will also be good throughout the rest of service, because people slump in other times, too, so just be aware of that. If you have a day, I would suggest that you review your onsite orientation and training plan, to ensure that you’ve created spaces to talk about slump with your members. And if you have a week of time that you can devote to this, I would really think about the different signs of slump and how you might address them head on. It will present them differently depending on your VISTA, think about, rethink your coaching conversations with your VISTAs, if you have a week to spare. And I’d say if you have a month, I would consider doing an asset map of the community. I would think about, okay, what are all the different resources in our community that we could rally to help the slump? I hope that these ideas have been interesting and useful, and I think that the resource that we’re collectively building together that will be disseminated after the webinar will be useful to everyone. I think we’re going to hand it to Jenny to talk about evaluation. Thank you, Gin. So thank you all, thank you Gin for all of the wonderful information. Before we get to Q and A, we’d love for you to take our quick evaluation on the right hand side of the screen. Just a few questions, we’d love to hear your feedback, we’d love to know what you liked, what you want more of, what we could’ve improved on. We do these webinars for you, and so we want to make sure that you’re getting what you need. So please, fill it out, we read them, we really do listen to them, a lot of our webinars have been developed based on feedback and needs from you all, so please let us know what you want. If you want to tell us you loved us, we love that, too. So as you’re taking that evaluation, we’re going to go ahead and jump into the Q and A. I want to bring on our operator Julie, to let us know how you can ask a question by the phone. Julie, are you there? I am, thank you. If you would like to ask a question, please press star one, and you will be prompted to record your first and your last name. Please unmute your phone when recording your name, and to withdraw your question press star two. One moment, please. Thank you so much, so as we wait for questions to come in over the phone, I want to start going over some that came in in the Q and A. So the first question we have here, and I’m going to lob this to Rhea, so Rhea, this one’s coming for you, Joan asks, I will be leading VISTAs at a great distance, four to eight hours away. How do you recognize and support slump in communications? So Rhea, you oversee I think you said five VISTA members, and they’re at a distance from you, I believe. How do you manage that? Yeah, actually all of our VISTAs are right in town, I can walk to most of their sites, but that is something that I’ve definitely heard from lots of other VISTA leaders and supervisors, that, you know, they have VISTAs all over the state. That’s a really good question. I think. Yeah, I think maybe probably working on, I know that, I don’t know if you do monthly calls, but we have VISTAs all over the state of Alaska, and even though I’m only in a supporting role as the VISTA leader for the folks in Fairbanks, some of our VISTAs they don’t have VISTA leaders, so they don’t really have a lot of connection in that sense, so one thing if you’re not already doing, is have a monthly call, and that can be just a time for folks to get together and talk about what they’re doing, and do some trouble-shooting, some problem-solving, but also a time to just connect with other folks and vent if they need to, or ask questions, or look for different resources. Other things that you could do since you’re not with them in the area is if you have the time to put together some different resources in the different areas that they’re in, and make sure that they know that there are different opportunities for them to get out in the community. Or if you somehow have any contacts with folks around that community, around the state. Another thing I do, and like I said all my VISTAs are right here in town, but I’ve started to work on a resource guide, and that could be something, that could be a way to bring all your VISTAs together, even if they’re all spread out, you know they could work on a Google drive document just to say what’s helped them out, and what’s not been really successful for them at their site specifically, or their year as a VISTA. And that again could be something that you could do at a monthly meeting, but that’s just another way to bring folks together, give them an opportunity to show their experience, and also that will be helpful for when you bring new VISTAs on. I hope that helps. Thank you, Rhea. Gin, do you have anything to add to what Rhea just mentioned? Yeah, a couple of ideas, is that when I have folks spread out in a vast geographic area, I try to find in the location, maybe a VISTA alum or someone else who is on-site who could be a second support. The other thing is I think that frequent check-ins then become critical, and when you’re in-person during on-site orientation before people are sent out hither and yon, just really making it very clear that you’re there to support, and it’s really important then when you ask for weekly check-ins via email or some other way, that people are really honest about how they’re mentally, physically, spiritually, you know, emotionally doing, so that you have a barometer and way to kind of gauge who might need help. So I think when I’m in person with folks, just really saying I’m here to support you and please, when I ask you to check in, be as honest as you can be about how you’re doing. You know there’s no shame in feeling frustrated, and a bit upset about how the VISTA service is going, so I think frequent check-ins and figuring out a mechanism, and it could be a fun thing, it could be, with my team we actually had code blue and other colors, so my team would let me know, they were 15 across the country, and so when I saw code blue I knew, okay, we’re in trouble and I need to really attend to this. Hope that helps. Thank you Gin, and thank you Rhea. Let me go to Julie really quickly, Julie do we have any questions that have come in over the phone? I’m showing no questions. All right, let’s go to one that came in through the Q and A here, sorry, through the chat actually, I saw it in the chat. The question is, I like the idea of helping our VISTA connect with other VISTAs in the area, is there an easy way to find out if there are others placed in the area? And I did see that someone in the chat mentioned the VISTA map, which the VISTA map is a great resource, but as someone mentioned it doesn’t necessarily capture everybody because it is an opt-in. So the VISTA map is if I put my pin there as a VISTA alumni, I’m there, but if I don’t, I don’t show up. So it might not be a full picture. My recommendation is that if you are a VISTA supervisor, you have a project in an area and you want to know if there’s other projects in the area where they have VISTAs, the person that I would reach out to is your state office. Your state office should have that information and be able to give that to you, like this is the contact information for projects that have VISTAs in the area. They may be able to give you an idea of that. The VISTA, if you are a sub-site supervisor, maybe you have a project director over you that you report to about the VISTA stuff, you can ask them as well, ’cause they may know. But the state office is a great resource because they manage all the projects in that state, for the most part, so they are a great resource to reach out to if you’re trying to find others in the area. I would also encourage you to encourage your VISTA members to post in our VISTA forums. The forums are a great way for people to connect, and if they say hey, I’m looking for people in Kansas City for a meet-up, or hey I’m looking for someone in Fairbanks to chat about VISTA service with, definitely post that in there, ’cause a lot of people are looking for ways to connect. So those are just a few of those. Jessica, can I remind everyone also, that if there’s no active VISTA projects, ask the state office about alumni, active alumni in the area, who would be willing to lend support. That’s great, thank you Gin. Yes, so a lot of alumni, you know Gin is an alumni, I’m an alumni, Shannen is now an alumni, and so is Rhea, even though she’s still serving she did serve a VISTA before, I can speak for myself but I think probably the other people on this call can also speak to they would love to help out, former VISTA members, other AmeriCorps members would love to help out, they know what it’s like to be a VISTA. They would probably welcome a chance to meet up with you, so definitely reaching out to alumni networks is also another way to definitely connect your VISTA members with people in the area. Let me go back to Julie really quickly, and see if she has anything on the phone for us, any people who want to ask a question over the phone. Once again, to ask a question, please press star one. One moment. Right, thank you. So we only have a couple minutes left, and I don’t know if we’re going to get any questions over the phone, but that’s okay. I want to leave us here really quickly before we get to the last piece about our next upcoming webinar, I want to ask Shannen and I want to ask Rhea, what is one thing, if you could give one piece of advice from a VISTA’s perspective to a VISTA supervisor on what they can do to help a VISTA member, what’s one thing you would tell them? Shannen, I’m going to start with you. Yeah, so I’ve been trying to reflect on everyone’s perspective, and I neglected to put this in mine, but I think for me in particular, some family members are working with VISTA. Like the people in your organization, if it’s a big organization, they might not know what you’re doing, like, I would think the supervisor let the other staff know if they don’t, like the purpose of this VISTA and what they’re there to do, so that they have a better understanding of what is this random person working with us? But that’s my main thing, that they understand the value of a VISTA and what they’re actually there to do. Thank you Shannen; Rhea? Yeah, I think that’s a really, really important one, Shannen. I’d kind of just like to reiterate what I’d mentioned earlier, just really being aware that your VISTA might be someone that’s fresh out of college, and never, hasn’t had the opportunity to work in a professional setting. So my supervisor is phenomenal in the sense that she always just reminds me that we can always do better. And I think just being really able to have some flexibility and compassion with someone that’s learning how to navigate this experience is really valuable for both parties. Thank you both, so much, and thank you all for joining us today. I want to leave you with just one last thing, we love having you on our webinars, if you’ve been on one of these before, you’ve heard me say it, I’m going to say it again, you are really an integral part of a successful VISTA experience. As Shannen and Gin and Rhea have explained in this webinar, you are a key to a VISTA member’s success, and so we thank you for the time and dedication, for joining this webinar, for wanting to help your VISTA members, we truly appreciate you doing that. And we love seeing you on these webinars. We hope to see you next month. Next month we are doing a webinar around mental health, stress, and resilience. It is a dual webinar, for our VISTA members and our VISTA supervisors, so we hope you can join us on November 16th, and then as I mentioned earlier in this session we do have our next VISTA member webinar which is Managing Up: Navigating the VISTA-Supervisor Relationship. That is this Thursday at 2:00 p.m. eastern. Once again, thank you all, thank you to our speakers, thank you Rachael and Jenny in the background for keeping this whole show running. Have a wonderful rest of your day, and we look forward to seeing you next month.

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