FLEX Members Adapt During Crisis

While we’ve encouraged you to dig into some professional development resources, join us on Virtual Hangouts, and try ways to be more productive while working at home, what’s most important to us right now is how you are doing.

This time has been undeniably hard and we know you’re probably stressed, bored, and maybe lonely as you practice social distancing. We’ve loved connecting with FLEX members and wanted to give an update about what some of you have been up to and how you are feeling during all of this. 

Like many, Lauren Lupinacci of Bridge Builders Community Foundations is working from home and said adapting has challenged her patience at times, but has helped her grow personally and professionally. “Challenges I’ve had to overcome include adjusting to a new routine or lack of, relying heavily on technology, and balancing my personal and work life,” she said. “I have also learned to improvise with what I have and be more patient, and that it is inevitable that at least one of our kiddos is going to make a special guest appearance during our daily staff video calls.”

Some young professional business owners or organization leaders have adapted and are now offering services online, including Bobbie with Trailasana Yoga Studio, Charlie with Oil City Vineyard Church, and Elizabeth with St. John’s Episcopal Church. Elizabeth has been sharing videos for her congregation on both Sundays and Thursdays, has been blogging often, and event created and mailed/delivered booklets for those who are not online. The Shepherd’s Green Community Food Pantry at St. John’s has also seen a lot of changes, as volunteers meet ahead of time to pre-pack boxes for community members.

“It has been a big change for the members of our church, but people understand why and are happy about the connections being kept alive,” Elizabeth said. “We have all learned a few new things and while we are looking forward to going back to the church building, our understanding of what it means to be the church outside of the walls has grown and expanded.”

Ben Hart, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Specialist with UPMC Northwest, is surely seeing changes during this time. He has been working closely with the 28 EMS services overseen by UPMC to support day-to-day operations and restock with personal protective equipment (PPE) and decontamination capabilities. “We are adapting to the ‘new’ standard of care from how we approach our patients, how we keep our providers and patients safe, and how we provide training,” he said. 

As a teacher, Alysha Graham is adapting and working to still provide a learning experience for her second graders. “It’s been difficult as we figure out the best way to provide the curriculum, as we also work to stay connected with them,” she said. Alysha even created a project, similar to Flat Stanley, to encourage her students to share photos of adventures they are having with her “mini me.”

We’re missing Valerie Perry as she’s still out on a cruise ship headed to the Philippines. Although her contract with Holland America Line is over, she chose to stay on board to limit contact with family at home (although there have been no cases on the ship).

She’s been making videos for the crew, co-hosting a daily morning show with updates and trivia questions, and editing a video for a friend who hosts a workout series (she used to be a video editor). We’ve enjoyed her soothing videos of the ocean on Facebook! She also recently completed her goal of visiting all 50 states.

When it comes to personal experiences with all of this, many young professionals shared how they have managed and also supported others.

Mollie Minman with the Salvation Army has made checking in with people a priority, adding it to her calendar. “During this time I’ve realized the power of just checking in, whether it’s a friend, family member, or coworker,” she said. “Taking a few minutes to let someone know that you are thinking of them and are here if they need anything has been key to maintaining personal and professional relationships.”  

Kat Thompson and Laura Ordaz mentioned being in a “slump” sometimes and trying to stay busy with hobbies, including gardening. “We all need to do what we can to get through,” said Kat.

It’s been great to hear from some young professionals, and we invite you to reach out to us. Join us at our next Virtual Hangout or contact us directly through Facebook messenger or email at We miss you and hope you are staying healthy and happy!

This article was published in the Future Leaders & Entrepreneurs Exchange’s (FLEX) May 2020 edition of the FLEX Your Ideas (FYI) Newsletter.

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