Wyoming Kindness Connection Seeks Contract Project Manager

In recent weeks, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s local impacts on our community, a group of volunteers from the Wyoming school district, city council, faith community and mental health professionals, have created Kindness Connection, a multi-pronged volunteer program to check in on residents, help lift one another’s moods while sheltering at home, and create a thin safety net for those experiencing stress during this time.

As will be detailed below, this is a program meant to ensure the spirit of our community remains strong during this time, and in the anticipated emotional and economic aftermath of the pandemic. The goal is to make sure all members of our community, especially our youth, the elderly, and those who are most vulnerable have points of contact and resources available.

To that end, and with the generous support of Wyoming Youth Services, we are seeking a Project Manager, to start immediately, to help coordinate a number of volunteer-run programs. We seek someone with a good sense of Wyoming as a community, with a background in community or volunteer organizing, and energy available to pour into supporting our residents as we navigate the outfall from a historic and difficult time.

MISSION STATEMENT: We are a community fully committed to ensuring that the children, families, individuals, and businesses among us thrive in all aspects of life. We know we are all finding ourselves under tremendous stress right now and could use a reminder that we’re not alone during this time of social isolation. During this uncertain time we also understand more than ever the importance of staying connected and engaged. Kindness Connection developed as a way to demonstrate that we are all in this together, and ensure that we have neighbors available to help any who are feeling vulnerable at this time.

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION:
Kindness Connection is a set of five programs designed to emotionally support our community. These programs include:

Kindness Ambassadors: About a dozen volunteers, coordinated by April Robles, to be points of contact for our immediate neighbors. They mail letters or leave notes at the door with their phone number offering to be someone who will proactively outreach and check on specific neighbors and someone they know who cares. These notes also include reminders that help is available from volunteer social workers and faith leaders (see Mental Health & Wellbeing Service Corps below).

Smile Makers: A volunteer opportunity designed for kids to reach out with an anonymous or random act of kindness. This can include leaving encouraging notes for their neighbors, complimenting their flowers, their well-behaved dog, etc. (Kids are expected to go out with a responsible family member and maintain social distancing from their neighbors as they go.)

Interest Groups: These groups are organized for adults or adults and their children to meet online with community volunteers who have an expertise in topics like yoga, mindfulness, Dungeons & Dragons, painting, etc.

Storytelling Circles: These online groups, led by Joey Taylor of BeSpoken Live, give people a chance to sort through their feelings through storytelling. These might be stories about happier times, how they are coping, or new discoveries and insights. Shared stories help fight isolation, can inspire others, and foster hope and resiliency.

Mental Health & Wellbeing Corps: Trained social workers and faith leaders are available to talk with individuals who request a call. These volunteers serve as our first-line triage. Some people just need to chat. Others may need referrals onto mental health services, and we have developed a referral list for adults in need of licensed mental health services. Pat Lehman, a retired school intervention specialist, is coordinating calls between those who make the requests and the volunteer social workers and faith leaders. Mind Peace is available to students over the summer.

UPCOMING AIMS:
One of our next goals is to use a collection of free resources to train members of our community on key factors to watch out for as their neighbors and family members might be struggling. We’re looking at it as a sort of mental health first aid program (not that our city will suddenly be full of therapists, but rather as those who’ve taken first aid training know signs that indicate emergency help is needed, so too will our growing team of volunteers).

We hope in coming weeks to build a wave of additional communication, normalizing being open about one’s emotional state during this difficult and unusual time, helping those who need it feel more comfortable reaching out for help, and continue building opportunities for those who are able to pitch in and support their neighboring families.

Also, in response to the country’s current moment in which we are all being forced to confront the reality of our nation’s history of racism, bias and violence, we recognize that many in our community are now in considerable pain and grieving here too. We hope over the summer that Kindness Connection will be able to work with community members and youth who are organizing events and foster a sense that reaching out for mental health support on this issue is welcome as well, and our neighbors are here to offer support.

NEED: The many tendrils of this program developed organically and while we have volunteers available to help manage individual pods of volunteers, the growing need and the sheer number of people involved mean that for this program to achieve success, we need a single point person managing the entire Kindness Connection. A Project Manager will work with our volunteer coordinators. With the addition of a Project Manager, we have an opportunity to fully develop a program that other cities can and should emulate.

Moreover, as we move into summer, we need someone with time available to reach families with children at home (as their school points of contact will not be available and guidance counselors are contractually barred from reaching out to students over summer to support them). With children home now for two months (some in very difficult circumstances) and with summer ahead, the caring, external adults who usually watched for at-risk children are largely unavailable. This is a large part of our motivation in building up a network of support within the community, neighbors checking in on neighbors, learning what warning signs to watch for.

The Project Manager will check in weekly via phone or email with the volunteer coordinators to gather updates on their progress. As the community’s new needs arise, the Project Manager may meet with members of the steering committee for guidance on how to relay needed adjustments to the existing programs.

Pay/Hours: The Project Manager will need to be available for 10-15 hours per week throughout the summer and throughout a transition period as school resumes. Over the course of this time, and thanks to generous support from Wyoming Youth Services, the Project Manager will be paid a total of a $15,000 stipend to support the Project Manager’s coordination of all Kindness Connection’s programs through October 1, 2020.

The Project Manager will bill the City of Wyoming biweekly with a breakdown of tasks completed and hours spent.

Resume and cover letter detailing your vision for the role are due by June 8 to Lynn Tetley, City Manager at ltetley@wyomingohio.gov.