August 2013 Meeting Notes

Our August meeting was fantastic!  A huge thank you to Wendy Ungaro of Community Hospice for teaching us about Compassion Fatigue.  Our notes tell you how to spot it and cope with it.

Joining us at the table were:

  • Mary Jury, Basca
  • Sandra Staudt Killea, Waste Not Want Not
  • Wendy Ungaro, Community Hospice
  • Nancy Knight, Hands on Jax
  • Maureen Jung, Florida Writer’s Association
  • Catrine Fredrikson, Rotary
  • Janie Foxx, Mercy Support Services
  • Cindy Pontrelli, Military Museum
  • Sandra Conklin, Quigley house
  • Elizabeth Pearce, Habitat
  • Lin Pratt, Seamark Ranch,
  • Darren Daily, Jacksonville Children chorus
  • John Cone, BASCA
  • Susan McKenna, Grace Episcopal Day School
  • Zach West, Young Life
  • Stephanie VanDyke, Young Life
  • Beth Eifert, Thrasher Horne Center for Performing Arts
  • Christy Fitzgerald, The Way Free Medical Clinic

Notes from our meeting August 29, 2013
Topic:  Compassion Fatigue

  • Today, Wendy Ungaro, community relations representative for Community Hospice will talk about Compassion Fatigue and how to prevent compassion fatigue. Burn out and compassion fatigue are two different animals. In the nonprofit world, workers and volunteers tend to be more philanthropic, this puts us at risk for Compassion Fatigue. Jane Wagener said,”Reality is the leading cause of stress for those who are in touch with it.”
  • Burn out is stress and dissatisfaction with work. A short term if given a break will allow us to recover from burnout.  Money issues stress and employees can be a cause of burnout.
  • Conversely, compassion fatigue is a state of tension or pre-occupation, you re-experience traumatic events, become re-focused again and again on the one situation. It is similar to a secondary post traumatic disorder. Many times the person will attempt avoidance and numbing of the event, they will try to push it to back of their mind.
  • There is a cost to caring. It is a good thing to have a caring heart, but we need to be good balancers. Compassion Fatigue is another form of heart disease because we care so much.  Compassion Fatigue occurs when you give more of yourself than you keep for yourself.  Eventually, you need to refill your resources for compassion.
  • So to identify Compassion Fatigue you must be alert and aware of what’s going on around you.  Understand that Compassion Fatigue can drain you physically, emotionally and spiritually.  You want to be in your job for the long haul, so be aware.  Compassion Fatigue is easier to spot in others than in yourself and it can reach serious levels.  In our jobs, situations that we have seen, places we have been can never go away but are pushed to the back of our minds as a dormant memory.  These memories never go away and can become recurrent.  This can be a viscous cycle.
  •  Keep your eye out for your employees and volunteers, Compassion Fatigue can be a cause for drop out.  They quit because the situation are more than they are equipped to handle.
  • Red Flags to watch for; chronic lateness, abusing drugs alcohol or food, blaming others/anger, depression, diminished sense of personal accomplishment, exhaustion both physical/emotional, headaches, isolation, received complaints from others on the job, compulsive behaviors, poor self-care, reoccurring nightmares, difficulty concentrating, feeling the need to be in control (cannot fix , difficulty saying no, desires to solve other peoples’ problems rather than giving them tools to solve the problem), inability to be objective, increased irritability, sleep disturbance, lack of vision for the future, inability for teams to work together well, negativity, reluctance towards change. This is a process and does not happen overnight.  When Compassion Fatigue happens you will see a decrease in job performance, moral drops and decline in health.
  • Here is a self-test to evaluate where you are when you are stressed.  Use the word “Halt”.  H, are you hungry.  Hunger will affect your mood  A, are you angry, identify why.  L, are you lonely, if you feel lonely you are isolated.  T, are you tired.  If you are affected by any of these feelings you will be less likely to be able to deal with situations at hand.  Studies show that people who are dealing with Compassion Fatigue dehydrate quicker.  Hydration and smiling can help your mental state.
  • Prevention is possible with Compassion Fatigue.  There are times that you need to let go of idealism: the job you love could be easier than any other job, but providing care is still difficult – acknowledge the difficulty of the tasks that you are providing.  Renounce perfectionism, no one is perfect; don’t set unachievable standards for yourself.  There are times when failure is the best teacher.  Examine what is our motivation to give/ why we are in this job/ do we give because we expect something in return.  You must give back because you want to, not because you get paid, you will not repaid.  Set boundaries; turn off your phone, stay away from the email/work during your down time. Take time to eat at away from your desk, everyone deserves a break during the day. Don’t give out your home number. Allow time for reflection. Take care of yourself physically.
  • A few more ideas to help prevent Compassion Fatigue. Take care of yourself. You need to figure out what your triggers are and learn to diffuse or avoid them. Resolve your own personal issues. Be human, allow yourself to grieve when bad things happen. Balance with your work with personal activities.  Allow for time for personal growth, don’t allow yourself to be so busy that you cannot rejuvenate your spirit.  Learn to say no.  Be ok with quiet. Eat good, exercise, rest, pray take care of your whole self. Find professional opportunities that provide for growth and renewal. Develop and reward your sense of humor, remember laughing is inner jogging. Find spiritual strength for the future.  Make sure your personal relationships are healthy. Get counseling if you need it.  Breathing is important, deep breath, breathe in and out to the count of 7 for relaxation. Avoid chaotic situations. Ask for help. Use the “halt” exercise. Debrief regularly. Delegate responsibilities.  Develop a healthy support system.
  • Wendy said the key is to recognize the symptoms and work on ways to prevent Compassion Fatigue.


BASCA – 5k one mile fun run on 11/2

CJ Acres – Cowpassionate Pignic, 9/21, ticketed event, on website, animal interactive and includes alcohol. Family oriented.

Hands on Jacksonville will be offering a program on Excellence in Volunteer management, 3 days in October

Waste not Want Not will have on  10/5 a community yard sale, rent a booth to sell your stuff. They are selling wreathes and Christmas trees, fundraiser orders in by 10/29, direct ship by fedex.

Quigley House will have a Domestic Abuse proclamation read at Kingsley and 17, Oct 15, 6-8pm They are looking for hot dog cooker for the event.

Seamark needs volunteers 10/26 for a family fun day.

Healthy 100 classes at The Y start 10/2.

Redactors are needed one weekend a month at the Military Museum.

Rotary dental clinic on 10/18 is having an evening fundraiser

Fleming Island Rotary is looking for service project for the Fleming Island Club. They prefer a one day project, Saturday morning.

Coldwell Banker/Vanguard called CBV Ca is a committee of 6-8 agents on Fleming Island that organizes events to raise money for local charities. We have a grant request process where any Clay County 501c3 organization can request and receive CBV Cares’ funds. Our next project is a Clay County Cookbook — “Cooking Up Memories: A Collection of Recipes from the Clay County Community” Besides over 500 delicious and mouth-watering recipes, it will showcase Clay County artists’ work and encompass a little history of Clay County, as well as county/community information/contact info. We need your help in finding fabulous recipes – from friends, family, and Clay County VIPs (legislators, council, restaurants, business owners, etc)!  Please forward to all your friends!  Each person can submit two recipes with their name (and business if desired).DEADLINE for submitting recipes is SEPTEMBER 23! Here is the link to enter your recipes: Log in: claycountycookbook password: lettuce196


Remember to take the Shaping Clay survey!