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Interview with Susan Mertz, OFP 2020 Intern

Susan Mertz, DU International Disaster Psychology Intern

What was the most beneficial experience for you at OFP?

I think my most beneficial experience has been working with Maggie and Heather. A lot of times, people see problems and do nothing about them. The fact that OFP started in order to address a gap in services is amazing and a great learning experience. It’s actually really inspiring!

What surprised you about the recovery of home fire survivors?

What surprised me most was how few resources there really are for people recovering from house fires. Initially, I thought the Red Cross did a lot more to help out, but their assistance only last so long.

What are your next steps after graduation?

Hopefully, a job in Program Evaluation! I want to help design and monitor international programs that focus on mental health initiatives.

What was it like working at OFP?

I really enjoyed it! I like how welcoming everyone was and even though I was only there for a short time, I felt incredibly supported by everyone.

How has OFP helped you grow as a clinician? 

It has definitely exposed me to new populations. I had a lot of training and classroom knowledge about people surviving disasters, but I had never directly worked with the populations. Also, any experience interacting with and helping others is something that helps you grow as a clinician. Having a wide range of diverse clients really helps expand your knowledge as a clinician.

What was your biggest take away from this internship?

I think my biggest takeaway has been the importance of social work. Don’t get me wrong, I always thought it was important, but people in the field of psychology have a tendency to look down a bit on it. Why? Probably because they are jealous 😉  After working with amazing social workers, I can see that the skills social work brings to a situation are so incredibly important. I also got to learn a few of those skills, which will be great for my clients and own personal development for years to come!

What did you learn most from the clients at OFP?

From the clients at OFP, I learned a lot about resilience. Most of them suffered one of the worst things of their entire lives, and yet they still keep on keeping on. I think a lot of people could completely shutdown after a traumatic experience, and yet the OFP clients continually strive to better their lives and work towards recovery.

Interview with Nicole Dryanski, OFP 2019 – 2021 Intern

What was the most beneficial experience for you at OFP?

Nicole Dryanski, DU Masters of Social Work Intern

The most beneficial experience for me was having this field placement becoming an opportunity with so many roles and duties I took on as an intern. The experience itself helped me grow, especially being able to work with this particular population of home fire survivors and wanting to become more evolved in this work. Thus, I would like to thank Sheila Babyak for telling Maggie to call me back for an interview.

What surprised you about the recovery of home fire survivors? 

Even though everyone might be different, every survivor shares the same struggles and barriers to overcome.

What are your next steps after graduation?

To move to the city of Chicago and officially be a working member of society.

What was it like working at OFP? 

Through all of the madness, it was such a perfect joy. I loved working with Maggie and Heather; I was more excited for my internship days than school.

How has OFP helped you grow as a clinician? 

I don’t think I could thank OFP enough for how much they have helped me grow as a person, leader, and social worker. During my time at OFP, I was everything from a maintenance worker to a case manager. Overall, I was very fortunate that OFP allowed me to work on interpersonal, case management, leadership, and non-profit management skills.

What was your biggest take away from this internship? 

That this population is so overwhelmingly underserved and overlooked, and unfortunately, I don’t think people understand the impact a disaster can have on a family or individual, and the lack of services being provided to them.

What did you learn most from the clients at OFP?

That we all are pretty simple people, and we all want the same thing: shelter, connection, and security in our lives.

Favorite quote

“If Heather and I ever had a baby, it would be you!” – Maggie

Beyond the Lights and Sirens – An Emergency Manager’s Perspective

Guest Blogger: Dr. Enessa Janes, Community Resilience Coordinator

When people hear the words “disaster” or “emergency management,” they typically think about first responders (police, EMTs, or firefighters) or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Although these groups are crucial to response efforts, when it comes time for families and communities to begin recovery, it takes a diverse group of partners and expertise to be successful.

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How to Effectively Get Out From Under Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is unfortunately a likely outcome for people who are affected by disasters as the recovery process is long, expensive, and can put a significant financial strain on a family. Our friends at LendEDU put together this great resource on real solutions for getting out of credit card debt… it is possible!

Credit card debt is a means to an end for millions of consumers each year. The ability to quickly pay for an unexpected expense, such as a car repair or a medical bill, is one of the biggest benefits of having available credit. However, without a plan to pay off credit card balances, many people find themselves drowning in high-interest credit card debt.

Over the last year, the total amount of consumer debt hit a peak. As interest accrues on revolving debt balances each month, it can seem like there is no end in sight to paying off what is owed. This is especially true when interest rates are over 20% on some credit card accounts, and only the minimum monthly payment is being made.

Fortunately, there are ways to dig yourself out of credit card debt and get back on track with your financial life through one or more of the following strategic methods.

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How to Get the Most Out of Renters Insurance

In the last blog, I discussed the nuts and bolts of renters insurance and how affordable it is… so there’s no excuse not to have it! And while renters insurance can be very helpful, if you don’t know how to use it, it can end up being a tremendous headache.

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Average Cost of Renters Insurance

Guest Blogger: Jeff Gitlen, LendEDU

Renters insurance is highly underrated and often overlooked. So when we came across this blog Jeff Gitlen wrote, originally published on the LendEDU blog, we just had to share his straightforward explanation and research on just how little a policy actually costs (HINT: it’s about the cost of a pizza!). When disaster strikes, having a renters insurance policy in hand can be helpful – read on for more!

 

At a Glance:

The average cost of renters insurance across the United States can change depending on where you live and how much coverage you need. Given the low cost – on average about $16 per month – and high value, a renters insurance policy can be a wise investment for renters.

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This Work is Hard

Guest Blogger: Paxton Leibold, Our Front Porch 2017-2018 Intern

Hurricane Harvey. Photo Credit: Olivia Vanni/The Victoria Advocate/Associated Press

Coming into this internship, I did not know what to expect. I had little to no clinical experience, I had never worked with the ‘short term’ homeless population nor clients who had severe trauma, and I honestly did not know how to do case management, let alone effective case management. However, while being a part of this organization, I learned how to do all of this and so much more. I learned that trauma can manifest in completely different ways within the same disaster, and that people are the most resilient when something tragic happens to them. From clients that have anxiety and depression, to clients that just want to move on; they are all resilient and deserve help. Another thing that I learned is that I am so irritated with how our society is ran. These types of clients (short term homeless) get little to no assistance through resources through in communities; why you ask? Because these people are physically not living on the street; per the homeless requirement in Denver, so they do not meet the criteria for government aid.

How messed up is this?

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Sympathy is a Garbage Emotion

Guest Blogger: Taylar McCoy, Our Front Porch 2017-2018 Intern

While working at Our Front Porch I have been able to hone some really useful skills, but one thing seems to stick out the most. Our Front Porch has given me an outlet to truly understand the difference between sympathy and empathy. Some people see these words as synonyms, but they are quite different. There are four words that I would consider to be related, but distinguishable: pity, sympathy, empathy, and compassion. Sympathy and empathy tend to be the two ideas that are intertwined the most. I would argue that empathy includes a component of connection and emotional intelligence that only comes from practice.

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