Families struggling with the loss and grief that comes with COVID-19 can get much-needed comfort and support thanks to specially trained Red Cross volunteers like Abbie Colussi.
Colussi, a disaster mental health lead from Helena, is part of a nationwide network of mental health, spiritual care and health services volunteers who serve as the backbone of the Red Cross Virtual Family Assistance Center. Over the phone, these volunteers offer condolences, connect families to state and local resources, provide support for virtual memorial services and host online classes that build resiliency and coping skills.
“It’s extremely important to be able to support our fellow neighbors out there who are impacted by COVID,” Colussi said. “Sometimes they feel like they don’t know where to go — they feel like they don’t know who to talk to — and for many people it’s easier to be in the comfort of their home and to be able to make a phone call and connect with someone.”
Colussi said they’re hearing from people who are mourning the loss of a loved one and those who have lost their job and are trying to figure out how to make next month’s rent, including a mother and her four children who were living in their car.
One call in particular stands out to Colussi. A service member told the team his father was in the hospital and was severely ill. He had been granted leave but didn’t have the money to pay for a plane ticket back home to see his dad one final time. The family assistance center was able to connect him with the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces program, which provided the man the financial help he needed to make the trip.
“That felt really good to be able to help him,” she said.
To learn more about the Virtual Family Assistance Center or request help, visit www.redcross.org/virtual-family-assistance-center.html or call 833-492-0094.
All the work is done virtually and is completely free and confidential.