Thriving in the Trenches

img_1792In a room with over one hundred and eighty professionals, from a variety of fields, that work with people are asked this question: “How many of you received training in primary, secondary, or vicarious trauma in preparation for your career?”
Not a hand raised.

That’s a problem. Through a refreshed lens, it’s reframed by Mower Refreshed and our community partners as an opportunity. An opportunity to gather at the table and share collective wisdom on how to engage, equip and empower the folks in our communities doing the front-line work. An opportunity to say “Yes” to creating meaningful responses to those serving in challenging careers, empowering them and seeking to decrease burn out. Engaging the folks doing the work that often involves experiencing or viewing trauma first hand or through hearing another’s story.


Kirsten Lewis, M.Ed. spent the afternoon on December 14th in a room filled with local professionals who are serving our communities. Law enforcement, school teachers, judges, human service workers, healthcare professionals, and many from other fields of work interacted with Kirsten as she shared research-based information on the topic of trauma. What trauma is, different types of trauma, how trauma impacts our professional and personal lives, strategies to build resiliency in the midst of stress, and finally the “awful privilege” of walking through trauma with the people we serve.

13This intense and yet inspiring time spent with Kirsten reinforced the work that has been done and continues to be grown out of the homegrown, co-op style of community–driven engagement, Mower Refreshed. The Mental Fitness team as well as Mower Refreshed’s other two teams: Healthier Choices and Workforce Wellness, all consisting of area folks who represent a wide variety of organizations, are already looking at what next steps to take. How they will collectively partner with organizations in Mower County who are currently doing work that shows positive impact related to trauma and as necessary, build practical responses and events that empower our professionals to continue in the challenging work of serving people of all ages.

A special thanks goes out to the Mental Fitness team members and community partners who join us in planning and/or sponsoring the event: Austin Pubic Schools, Gerard Academy, Independent Management Services, Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea-Austin, Mower County Health & Human Services, Mower County Corrections, and Medica.

To Kirsten Lewis, we are grateful for your stories, your passion to strengthen those who are doing the hard work, and the time spent inspiring us all to continue in the work of building healthy and resilient communities here in Mower County and beyond.


Sandy Anderson, MS
Community Engagement Coordinator | Mower Refreshed
Mayo Clinic Health System Albert Lea-Austin

To learn more about how you can thrive in the trenches, visit Kirsten’s website:
KSL Research, Training, & Consultation, LLC
Kirsten Lewis, M.Ed