September 05, 2012
The Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation and Heart to Heart Communications hosted +500 attendees at an all-day forum on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, Compassion for the Compassionate: Supporting Those Serving Others at the John S. Knight Center in Akron.

Professionals in caring fields understand the work is rewarding and fulfilling, but also can lead to escalated stress and emotional fatigue. Compassion fatigue impacts both individuals and their workplace. When affected, these professionals are less productive in their jobs and experience more frustrations in their personal lives. Left unchecked, they may end up leaving their career.

Compassion for the Compassionate featured local experts on workplace stress and interpersonal dynamics, and nationally known Fr. Lyndon Harris, a Priest at St. Paul’s Episcopal Chapel across from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. In his talk, Who Cares? Caring for the Caregiver in the Aftermath of Tragedy, Fr. Lyndon shared his insights on the personal costs and rewards of professional caregiving during the rescue efforts in the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center. Attendees were visibly moved as he shared stories and images of love and support for the heroes working at Ground Zero.

Rebecca Erickson, Ph.D. from the University of Akron presented her work on the effects of stress, burnout and compassion fatigue on nurses. Heart to Heart Communications co-founders, Fr. Norm Douglas and Larry Vuillemin, specializing in values-based workplace programs, facilitated table conversations and large group discussions. Topics included strategies to address compassion fatigue, recognizing early symptoms and how managers can make it easier for employees to balance work and life.

Video clips of local professionals were shown throughout the day demonstrating experiences and emotions that occur in many helping careers. Deanna Davies, Hospice Nurse; Don Malarcik, Attorney; Anita Sharp, Case Manger; Kevin Davis, Police Officer; Carrie Evans, Teacher; Troy Portis, Nurse; Carolyn Young, Mental Health Nurse; and Deacon Bob Bender, Pastoral Minister spoke candidly on symptoms related to job stress, personal coping methods and why they love and stay in their jobs. At the end of the day, attendees met the individuals from the video, expressed gratitude and applauded them for sharing their inspiring work.

Forum attendees left the event expressing appreciation for having a day to refresh and energize. Follow-up activities focused on supporting caring professionals are being coordinated through Heart to Heart Communications.

The event was part of the Morgan Forum Series, bringing together experts in mental health, local professionals and community members. The convening facilitates dialog to inspire collaboration and community learning on mental health issues.