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PODCAST: Compassion Fatigue & Intentional Breathing with Rona Watson

Updated: May 3

An ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and a Chaplain, Rona Watson, talks about how a resilient, positive mind full of hope & compassion is the only way to endure a tough life. Rona stresses the importance of answering “why” one is doing what he’s doing in order to lead a happy life, the concepts of ‘Compassion fatigue’ and ‘Intentional breathing,' and why everyone should have a go-to and a ‘designated hug partner.’

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Compassion Fatigue & Intentional Breathing with Rona Watson Transcript

Kathy Roths: 

Welcome, everyone, we are in another session, day four of the Global First Responder Resilience Summit. My name is Kathy Raths, and I'll be your co-host for this session. Today's theme is spiritual fitness and resilience, and I'm very excited to be here with Chaplain Rona Martin Watson. So, welcome, Chaplain Rona Martin Watson. How are you?


Rona Watson: 

I am wonderful, wonderful, Kathy. I'm excited for this opportunity and grateful that the space has been provided for such a good cause and a good reason. Absolutely, absolutely, thank you. 

Kathy Roths: 

Well, I am looking forward to the conversation and all that you have to offer the folks that have been able to find their way to us, wherever they are. So, I'm going to start by sharing a little bit of your bio and then we'll get into a conversation with lots of many good nuggets I'm sure promised ahead. 

So, Rona has a passion for compassion. She has over 15 years of experience as a Chaplain primarily serving in clinical settings but also serving as a Chaplain for four years with the Wilmington Police Department in North Carolina. She is an ordained elder of the AME Zion Church. Rona holds a master’s degree in Divinity, undergraduate in psychology and business; quite a blend there, Rona. 

And she is working on her Doctorate of Ministry degree focusing on the practicality of compassion among clinical interdisciplinary teams as a catalytic mechanism to champion resilience. So, that is why we are here. 

Oh, well, Rona, if you could just start us off with – you've clearly been at this work as our audience will find you have light and passion about the work. Could you just start off a little bit of your observations and your role and your academic interests and your heart interests over the last 18 months in encountering first responders. So, be they law enforcement, your clinical folks, other folks that you work with. 

What are you hearing and noticing about spiritual fitness and resilience amongst those that you're working with, what's working and what's challenging for those folks? 

Rona Watson: 

It’s been about 18 months, huh? 

Kathy Roths: 

Yeah, exactly. 

Rona Watson: 

18 months, and it does not seem to be getting any easier at all for our people, for our first responders. I can say that over the last 18 months that I've seen the strength of a well, old machine of a team in the midst of a global pandemic, in the midst of the struggle, in the midst of simply the fact that there is a global pandemic, does not put a halt to the heart attacks. It doesn't put a halt to cancer. It doesn't put a halt to just simply dying of old age. It doesn't put a halt to anything else. 

So, to see the stick-to-itiveness of our team in the midst of all that's happening on the public side and in their private lives, and to see our team just keep moving forward in spite of, right? In spite of. So, that is what I've seen. I've seen burst of excitement and enthusiasm for what is to come and that hope of an end to this pandemic. So, I've seen that. 

And then I've seen almost the bursting of a bubble when you hear rumors of us having to shut down again, or visitations in hospitals, them being put on hold all over again. And then there is a light again when we hear about vaccines and some semblance of that in the struggle of do I or do I not participate in that. 

So, I would absolutely say the feeling wheel is thoroughly being used. In chaplaincy, we talk about our feeling wheel and our emotions, I can absolutely say that we have exhausted every single color and feeling that there is, and so that's what I've seen. And what I've heard is, it's still though we can do this, we can move forward. I've heard the encouragement of a paramedic who may have just their loved one yet still is encouraging someone else to go forward. 

So, we talk about resilience. We talk about it. And I even ask the question, are we talking about resilience too much? And I actually believe – I've thought about it and I've answered it all by myself – that now because it's something that is needed and it's not just a linear thing, resilience is dynamic. It’s dynamic and it comes in different forms. And so we need to talk about it. 

And those are the things that I've heard along the way that we can, we can do this, that you're stronger than you think you are, that this next shift may suck, it may be bad, but we're gonna get through this together. Right? So those are the things that I've seen and that I've heard in the midst of just life. And to say for me that yeah, we can put a time on this thing, yeah, 18 months. 18 months. 

And so you have the book that can say, you know, I can endure anything for a certain amount of time as long as I know it is going to have a beginning and it's going to have an end. And so, where the trouble comes, or where the trial comes or where the strive comes is when we begin to not see an end to it, is where we begin to not see an end to it, especially if we look at one of the definitions of resilience being the opportunity or the means to bounce back. 

One of the definition says that you have the capacity to bounce back. Well, in order to be able to bounce back, there has to be an end and then I bounce back. And as many writers have done is kind of expand that definition and to say in the midst of, you know, there is that means and way to endure. To endure. And to make that would be a part of your mantra for resilience and for daily living. So, I've seen, and I've heard the good, the bad, and the ugly is what I would say. But just the opportunity to still be around our first responders, our folks that take care of other folks, and to be able to rally them and encourage them is a beautiful thing. 

So, again, I know I keep saying 18 months, because it just took me aback, but I've been with our first responders with the hospital, New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington for the past year now specifically, and so before I was a chaplain and still chaplain at the hospital. But in this past little over a year, I've been with our first responders, so with EMS, AirLink, VitaLink. 

And the difference for me is that as a chaplain in the hospital, the priority is patients first; patients, staff, visitors, right? But as a chaplain for our first responders, it is truly our staff first; first responders, first, then patients and visitors. And that shift for me has just opened my eyes to just the fact that our caregivers need to be cared for also, that it's not just the patients. It is the ones who take care of the patients. 

The other difference is that patients admit that they're not feeling well. Right? Hey, I am in the hospital, I must be in the hospital for a reason. All right, hey, dial 911, someone dial 911 on my behalf, I have an emergency situation. So, what they have going on is worn on the outside. For first responders, they're not necessarily going around saying hey, I need help. They're not necessarily going around saying, hey, I need a break. They're not necessarily going around saying hey, I need space. I need space. Or they don't have that levity to just say that. 

And so a part of what I see is my job is to say, you know what, compassion fatigue is real and we're gonna experience compassion fatigue. And why is that? Just because you care. That's why. Compassion fatigue is a thing because you care. Or at least you used to care. Right? It's a thing because you care. 

So, one of my goals is to mitigate the effects of compassion fatigue, and knowing that our folks, our first responders are doing exactly what they were taught to do, doing exactly what they were born to do, then it is my job as their chaplain to say hey, let's take a break. Or hey, what is it that you used to do to re-energize yourself that you haven't done in a long time? 

So, I see that as a part of what I do to remind our first responders that they have to take care of themselves. They are who they are, and they are going to make sure that the job that they do is excellent and is on point, and it's just in them just to do a fantastic job every single time. So, I get to come around and say, I know, I know, I know that you have this, this, and this to do. But later on, can we go take a walk, you know, or my phone is available, give me a call, send me a text, I'm here. 

And I make that a part of my priority – let me know if I'm talking too long – and I make that a part of my priority because when or if ever I have an emergency situation, if I have a heart attack or stroke, I want my first responders to jump in there and do what they do best. I want them to get in there and do what they do best. I don't want them to have to think about, oh, I'm tired, or oh, I wish I could go take a walk or all of that. When an emergency situation happens, I want my first responders to do that which they do so well. 

So, another part of what I see my job is to give them the tools and the resources before and after to help them before and after they have those emergent events. So, they can get to the next one and to the next one and to the next one, being mindful and being energized and being ready to go. 

Kathy Roths: 

Rona, so many great things, there's a few that are kind of sticking with me, so one of the things I heard that really grabbed me was this conversation about resilience, or a couple of things you said that struck me, one is almost in this state that we're currently in adding the word ‘endurance’ to resilience. 

And then I love the way that you described, you know, that we can't presume and maybe we never could, but we can't presume there's kind of an end point in which I go and recharge, right? It is this dynamic and it's flowing and we're showing up in it and so the impetus to build that in, there is no point in which you'll hit and be like, oh, now I'm done and we made it. 

So, I really appreciate the dynamism that you talked about, and I think also I have the same question, like, are we talking and maybe we can get into that a little bit, when we're talking so much about resilience which sometimes falls on the individual, like, dig deeper and dig deeper and dig deeper and at some point we give people space to cry. 

But I like that it is there, it is there to dig deeper and that's one of the things in my brief opportunity to kind of take a look at your LinkedIn profile and some of the things that you wrote leading up to this, I really appreciated that you talk a lot about that almost kind of a renewable resource that resilience, spiritual resilience specifically as a renewable source, and it includes that I heard and maybe we can talk a little bit more about it, it includes you said two things in the materials I had seen; one was your purpose and your ‘why’. 

And another piece that I'd love to have you speak to is your origin story. So I heard you talking about that like these are people that are born to do this, right? But could you talk a little bit more about the role of the ‘why’ and the origin story in the resilience that folks are needing to draw upon these days. 

Rona Watson: 

Absolutely, and I do believe that they can really go hand in hand – your ‘why’ and your origin story. I believe your ‘why’, your origin story is one of those fundamental things that we have to know. We have to know why we do what we do. So, as we're talking about first responders, why on earth would you choose a career to go around and save people's lives, to put yourself in danger that you might be able to help someone else? Do we necessarily just wake up and say, oh, this is what I want to be? Maybe that could be your ‘why’ because you just woke up. 

But was it maybe because when you were younger your grandmother was sick, and you took care of your grandmother when you were growing up, and now you are a paramedic because you want to stay true and honor the legacy of your grandmother? Are you a first responder, are you a paramedic because you yourself were in need one day? You were sick and you spent some time in the hospital and someone nursed you back to help and that just kind of sparked that notion that this is exactly what I want to do and I want to be just like that person because they really helped me and I want to help others? Is that why? 

Did your house catch on fire in a younger time in your life and a fire person came and rescued you and your family from that fire, and that just sparked that interest in you that that is what you want to do and that's what you want to be? So, when I say what is your origin story, what is it that sparked that interest? What is it that caused you to say, I want to learn more about this? 

What is that thing that's just keeping your interest and keeping you wanting to learn more about being a firefighter? What is it that's keeping you to want to learn more about being a paramedic, about being a police officer? What is that thing that when you were younger – and usually it happens, when you're younger, it's kind of when I used to do interviews, I would ask, what did you want to be when you grow up, when you were six or seven years old? 

And a lot of times I hear the stories about well, my sister was sick when we were younger and I was the one that took care of my sister. And maybe she's okay now, but that is what caused me to want to continue on in that vein, so that is what caused me to just want to be that not only for my sister but for others, I found that I was good, I was good at it. And so that's the thing. 

And the reason why you need to tap into your origin story. And remember why you do what you're doing is because that is what's gonna keep you. That's one of the things that's gonna keep you. That's one of the things that's gonna allow you to move forward when you believe that you lost all your strength. I may not feel like getting out of bed today, but because of this legacy that my grandmother left, I am going to honor her legacy and I'm gonna get my tail out of this bed and do that which I do in honor of my grandmother. 

We come from a family of police officers and that is what I'm going to do. And I’m sure granddad and dad and grandma and mom and brothers and sisters weren’t feeling it everyday but they still went out there and did that which they needed to do to make sure that the society that we live in was protected, so I'm going to do that too. 

So, it's your ‘why’, your origin story that causes you to be able to use that resource that's already within you because it comes from generation to generation to generation, it's in you to do that what you do. And for some people, their ‘why’ could be, I'm doing what I do because I got to pay my bills, right?


And for some folks, their ‘why’ might not be something from the past, their ‘why’ could be something in the future, I am doing that which I do so that my children can have something and my grandchildren can have something to tap in. I'm doing that I do so that my family can have a narrative, so that my family will know this is what I did, what I accomplished, and this is what they can put on the wall and then use that as an encouragement for them later on. 

We have what we put together with wills, and with our wills we leave something for our loved ones when we go on. When we speak of legacies, we leave something for our loved ones when we go on. So what is it that you will to future generations? What is it that you will to your children? What is it that you will to your grandchildren? What is it that you will to your younger siblings, to say you know what, there's gonna be some times when you are going to be so excited about conquering the world, so excited about conquering the world, and that's well and good but there are also going to be some times when you just don't have it to give. You don't have it to give. 

And what is it that we can tap into to help us, what is that resource that we can tap into to aid us in being able to do that which we do so well. So that's why I talk about your origin story and knowing your why, because that's one of the things that you can utilize as your renewable resource when we speak about resilience. 

Kathy Roths: 

That was really lovely, in particular the image that came to mind was these generations, ancestors now, that there's this reality of what is happening right now but extending it, tethering out to that one you can call upon those ancestors whether its memory or whatever you belief system is about that, and then calling upon you know what are you leaving. I think that's really lovely. 

Also thinking about it, it occurs to me when you're talking about the origin story is that the importance of it in the’ why’ is helping people make decisions right now because I don't know about you but some of our folks that I work with in our corrections facilities are maybe not making the best decisions right now or acting out of their best angels and they're just tired. But if you can go back to that ‘why’, that origin story, it can help you realize like am I following my compass or not. 

Anyway, I just really appreciate that piece that you shared. Well, I want to ask you a little bit you're working on a Doctorate of Ministry right now it looks like. Good for you. And the topic if I understand, and please expand, is working with clinical groups to integrate compassion into interdisciplinary care. 

And so, when I think about it, and again, this expansion ideas, I think about compassion. You know, if I'm a care provider and I'm providing compassion, the gift of that is it comes back, right? So, could you talk a little bit about your thinking on and work around compassion, commitment to that and how that came to be.

Rona Watson: 

So, my research actually started before COVID, like just before this whole pandemic thing started. And so it birthed out of the fact that I do work with interdisciplinary teams that are comprised of the doctors, of the nurses, of the chaplains, of the social workers, and we come together and we talk about different patients and what is needed for that particular patient. 

So, as we come together and we're talking, we have kind of a cadence; you meet, you talk, you go on to the next person. And then you have to actually work through that day. You have to actually work through that day. So you encounter the different people in different circumstances, different illnesses and different responses, and throughout the day, throughout the week, throughout the months, throughout the years, there are some things that weigh on you, you know, situations, circumstances, that just weigh on you. 

And so for me I always have this yearning to I know I cannot obliviate a suffering, I cannot get rid of suffering, and I know that suffering is just there. But if there is a way that I can mitigate, if there's a way that I can decrease the amount of suffering, that is what I want to do. 

And so to hear the stress and the strain of the people that I work with, there was absolutely a desire to relieve some of that anxiety that they have and how can you do that, what can I give and what can I offer. And so, then I started looking at mindfulness and started looking at resilience and started looking at cognitively based compassion and started looking at what can we do not even in the long term but in the now, what is it that's going to help me right now. 

And one of the things that I found out is that studies show that four intentional deep breaths can help to relieve anxiety. Four intentional deep breaths. Let’s do that right now Kathy. Alright so intentional, which means eyes opened or eyes closed, but four intentional deep breaths in through our nose and out through our mouths. So let's start, one, in through our nose. Out through our mouths. In through our nose. Out through our mouths. In through our nose. Out through our mouths. And one more. 

For me, the key word there is ‘intentional’ because we breathe all the time, don’t we? We breathe all the time. But being intentional about it may actually cause you to say, oh, I feel the cold air going through my nostrils, or, oh, my throat seems a little dry, maybe I need some water. Or to kind of be mindful about what's going on and it takes you back just to a moment to yourself. And those four intentional breaths, those breaths you can take between a visit, when you're leaving one patient and you're about to go into the room of another patient. 

Those four intentional breaths you can do if your eyes are open while driving to your next call, or while riding along to your next call, you can take those four intentional deep breaths to just remind you to be mindful, just to remind you to take time for yourself, you take those breaths just for the intentionality of it. 

And yeah, don't get rid of it, but it lessens your anxiety level. And when your anxiety levels are lower, you can think more clearly. You can think more clearly. You can be able to make decisions you're making along the way but maybe better decisions when your anxiety level is a little lower than it was before. 

So, that's one of the things that I thought, oh wait. Wow, that's something that I can give, to my folks, to my people that I hang out with, to the caregivers, to people that are helping others just something that they can have in their pocket to take with them all the time. 

So as long as you're still breathing, you can take four intentional deep breaths because maybe you already know that the next patient or person that you're going to encounter is already going to be a patient or person who is going to be a trigger for you. Maybe that person is going to remind you of something that happened to you in your past. Maybe that person is going to remind you of a loved one that has gone already. Maybe that is going to be a situation where you do need to take a moment just to breathe. 

And in doing that, you're constantly reminding yourself of so many things, that you're still here. You're reminding yourself that you are still relevant. You are reminding yourself that you are needed. And the other thing that that whole breath thing does, it's kind of an equalizer. For me, that whole breath thing is an equalizer because it reminds me that we are all in need of the exact same thing. It’s breath. It’s something that we all need. 

So, for me it's a great equalizer to say you know what, we're in this thing together. We are in this thing together regardless of rank or file or position or title, we all need to breathe. So it just puts you in this place. So I say all that to say that's actually where it started. So, that thought, okay, if that works so well then what else? What else is there as it relates to mindfulness? What else is there that will help to foster this idea of resilience? 

And I looked at Kristin Neff who talks about self-compassion in her studies, and Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about mindfulness, and I looked at some studies from Emory about their cognitively based compassion training, and all these things together help me to know that all is not lost, that there is something out there and there are studies and there is research, and so there are items and resources that we can all tap into to help foster this whole idea of resilience and to help make sure that we lessen the effects of compassion fatigue. 

And so when I talk about my passion is compassion, then that's what I'm excited about. That is what I'm excited about. Before the whole COVID thing, I could tell you hands down that I am a hugger. I am a hugger. I'm a hugger. And I did not know that… 

Kathy Roths: 

Who said that about you?

Rona Watson: 

Listen, I did not know that it was a thing that you -- some are born with it and some are not, until my second oldest son, not a hugger. Not a hugger at all. My third son, he was just all in, so he got the book, he got like all of the hug gene. 

And my second older son, well, he’s okay, he is hugging. And he realizes that about himself even in that one Christmas when he was 12 years old. He gave me little coupons, he gave me 10 coupons that said, this is for your free hug. He's 22 now, but he realizes that he's not really a hugger, but he gave me those 10 self-made coupons that said “Free Hug”. 

Now Kelly, I still have six or seven of those coupons, because I know I have to hold on to them. So anyway, all that to say that I am a hugger. So, one of the things for me during this time and the season that we're in now where there's not so much of that whole hugging thing, so one of the things that I have written down in my notes, even in the notes of my research is that you got to have a hug partner. 

You have to have a designated hug partner. Have a designated hug partner. person that knows that they are your designated hug partner. If you have a spouse, preferably your designated… just saying, preferably your designated hug partner is your spouse, okay, but someone where you can get a hug from where you don't have to cry to get the hug. You don't have to fuss to get the hug. You don't have to go around the house pouting to get the hug, that when you're ready for your hug you get your hug. Alright? 

So, I know that this section that we're in, we're talking about spiritual fitness. And so, as a chaplain, I make sure that I give my definition of ‘spiritual’. I have to make sure because where we are, we have people that hear the word chaplain and they say I don't need a preacher, I don't need a priest, I don't believe in that sort of thing. So, I have to give my definition of spiritual. 

So, my definition of spiritual is ‘connection’. Period. Spiritual for me means connection. So, what is it that connects you? What is it that anchors you? What is it that keeps you? What is it that encourages you, and what is it that brings you hope?

And for some, the person, place, or thing that gives them connection is Jesus. For some that person, place, or thing that offers them that connection is Buddha. For some that person, place, or thing that offers them connection is the sunshine. For some that person, place, or thing that offers them connection is the beach, is the mountains, is fishing, is skateboarding. It's what is it that connects you? 

What is it that anchors you? What is it that brings you hope? What is it that snaps you out of whatever thing you find yourself lost in? And that is what my fight is to remind people of whatever it is that helps you, what is that helpful thing that causes you to be able to be exactly in all that you were created to be? And my connection may be different from your connection, Kelly and it may be different from somebody else's connection, but I do see it as a part of what I do is reminding people of what their connection is. 

And so that's why I bring up, you need to designate a hub partner because we are touchy feely people. We just are. We are touchy feely. I am. Let me just – okay, when I speak for myself, I am touchy feely. So having a designated hug partner in the midst and the space of where we are now is so important because you need that. You need that. 

So now for my non-designated hub partners, this is my hug, just putting my hand over my heart and leaning forward is my hug. And it works wonders for me. Even when I'm speaking to you, Kelly, just to be able to do this helps me to connect to you, because we all have to breathe. We all have heart. And so for me that's why the designated hug partner is important because of the connection, because that offers that connection. 

And that connection, that word ‘connection’ is my definition for spiritual. And so when we talk about spiritual fitness, that thing is that muscle that we have to nurture and we have to grow and we have to engage. Right? And so one of the ways to engage our spiritual fitness muscle is to remind ourselves of what connects us. 

And so as a chaplain, the only way I can remind you Kelly of what your connection is, is I got to know who you are. I have to engage with you, I have to have to talk to you, I have to know who you are, I have to know what it is you like to do. If you do not like licorice, then when you're having a bad day, me giving you licorice is not going to be very helpful, is it? Not at all. Not at all. 

It may be endearing and sweet and kind and all of that other stuff, but when I walk away, you're still gonna be right where you were. You’d be like, what was that licorice thing? And so we do, we have to take the time to get to know each other. We have to take the time to get to know each other. And so that's one of the other things that I believe that we must do is, even in the midst of the chaos and what we're going through is to really take the time to get to know each other. And so that's a part of what is being revealed in my research is that there are ways that we can help to nurture the resilience. 

There are ways that even though someone may feel that they do not have a compassionate bone in their body that I've learned that compassion can be taught. Compassion is a learned behavior. It is just when we talk about muscles, it's one of those things that you engage, you're mindful about and it can indeed grow. 

Your resilience is one of those things that when you're mindful and you're intentional about it, your ability to bounce back in the midst of, your ability to endure will grow all the more stronger with that consistency. And so that's the other thing. So what things can we do on a consistent basis that will help to allow us to engage that whole spiritual fitness or to strengthen our spiritual fitness muscle to strengthen our ability to be resilient. And so that is what we're working on. 

Kathy Roths: 

That's a lot of stuff I'm excited hopefully to pounce on what that is that you've just left I think you've given me now I looked at two [inaudible] this kind of practical takeaways for us and our audience, and thank you so much. That was great. We just have a few minutes left here. And so today is about spiritual fitness and resilience and you've spoken just broadly and eloquently about that. 

One of the things – and I'm probably going to guess that you hear this too – is that sometimes the hardest part at least for the first responders that I work with, sometimes I talk about, you know, whether it's the patients or the people in custody or the other, so that stuff is not hard, doing my job is not hard, but it's my manager or the politics or the workplace. 

And so, the next day of the summit talks a little bit about what can organizations and workplaces and other things do. Would there be anything, and again, we don't have a ton of time but just anything from an infrastructural organizational standpoint that you could say for folks listening. How can we get out of people's way of being enduring and resilient, or things that we could do to bring in and support the work that you're talking about. 

Rona Watson: 

Yeah, I believe we're actually seeing more and more of an emphasis towards resilience and we're seeing more and more of that desire even in the workplace for employees, our first responders to endure, I mean, you would want for those folks that are in your institution to be able to be the best that they can be. Right? That's what you would want. So, what I'm seeing especially in our organization is what – you'll hear me use this word a lot, the ‘intentionality’. 

So being intentional about resilience resources, being intentional about presenting or laying out or highlighting the resources that are already available, the employee assistance programs, highlighting the fact that we do have a spiritual care department and there are chaplains available that can speak to each auxiliary, to each department and offer mindfulness moments to allow each group – and start with the leadership, get the buy-in from the leadership, that they can let everyone know that it's okay to not be okay. It's okay to not be okay, it's okay to be frustrated. We are all frustrated about something. There's always -- and so it is absolutely okay.

So, we don't want to ignore anything. And I think that's one of the things that organizations can do is, one, make sure that their employees know that they care about them, that they care about the work that they are doing. So, the buy in and support those resources that are available, supporting the resources that are out there about the counseling programs that are out there, supporting and giving employees the time to be able to engage those resources. 

So, I know I spoke about employee assistance programs where there is counseling help and financial help, we have peer support team which is wonderful an excellent peer support team at New Hanover Regional who are just there available for their peers whenever they need someone to talk to. And when they reach the end of their knowledge base and then they refer their friends, their peer to the Jaclyn, or to employee assistance program. There are workshops that organizations can lift up in seminars that organizations can make sure that employees know that they are just available for them. 

And all of these things I can say and I know about it because it's what we're doing at New Hanover, it's a wonderful thing, the support and the appreciation that is just there. Because just as I talked about how at first, beginning of the 18 months that there was this rally, we're strong and we're in this together and we can do it. But then as the months go by, it's okay, we're strong. We can do it. 

And so I believe what we should focus on is making sure that consistency in letting all of our first responders know that you are important, you are appreciated, we appreciate what you do, we know the hard work that you do, we know that it's not easy. We know that life still happens in the midst of the job that you have to do, life still happens, and we support you in that. 

So, I believe if there is buy-in from our organizations, support from our organizations to be able to engage the resources, and then if there is that encouragement to make sure that we are able to engage the resources. So not just talk about it but to champion it and to allow whatever it is that whatever program you lay out for it to actually take place, not just talk about it. Let your actions stand behind what you talk about. 

Kathy Roths: 

Chaplain Rona, what a pleasure to talk to you. It's always yes, come to the [inaudible] and I'm like, oh I would love to hang out with you more. So anyway. So, thank you for what you're doing for just in all things, but particularly for our first responder community and caring for the people who care for us. Because yes, I'm with you. I want them full on their game if I need them showing up. But yeah, just thanks to folks like you for keeping their tanks full. 

Rona Watson: 

Absolutely. Thank you. I will say that we talked about knowing your ‘why’ and your origin story. One of the other things that I lift up and I'm just gonna throw it out there is that our first responders, they're wonderful. They're great. They are truly born to be that which they are in. 

And so in addition to knowing your ‘why’, I celebrate and my wish for first responders is just to be exactly who you are, be exactly who you are because you were born to do this, and don't let anyone allow you to change that fact or to alter that fact you are exactly who you are and pretty good at what you do. 

And the other thing is that make sure that we continue to recognize the other, recognize those that we work alongside. And make sure that our coworkers know that we are all in this together and we're there for each other. So, thank you. 

Kathy Roths: 

Thank you. I love it. Very best. 

Rona Watson: 

Thank you, Kelly.



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