WESTFIELD, Mass. --
The 104th Fighter Wing Wellness Team is a support team that works to bring resources to members and families of the wing. They provide help throughout the year, and they’ve been answering the call to action during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team consists of the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Chaplain Team, Director of Psychological Health, Yellow Ribbon Support Specialist, Human Resource Advisor, Personal Financial Counselor and the Airman & Family Readiness Office.
“The team works together, as appropriate, to bring resources to our members and families,” said Lisa Potito, Wellness Team Coordinator. “The Wellness Team is a team of helping organizations on base.”
The Wellness Center was set to open up over the next year, to allow for the resources to be more readily available. The COVID-19 response has delayed the center’s opening, but the team is still serving unit members. Not having a central building is not slowing their efforts to help people.
Once we are in the same building, it will be a one-stop-shop for our Airman to come and get help for any issue or concern that they have,” said Potito.
During this time of COVID-19 pandemic, the helping agencies are available by phone and offering virtual social connection opportunities. The chaplain is also providing virtual services for veteran homes. Family Readiness is providing virtual social events and activities for families to get together safely. The Director of Psychological Health and SAPR coordinator are providing helpful resources and reaching out to members.
“We are thinking about incorporating some of these virtual social-connection opportunities into our long-term planning,” said Potito.
Before the pandemic struck, Potito said the team was designing events to help members come together as a community and help alleviate everyday stress. Some of these events (Bring Your Child to Work Day, Dogs n’ Dessert, and blood drives) are on hold for the moment. Others, like Morning Mindfulness, are moving forward. The event should offer a short mindfulness session, first thing in the morning, prior to the start of the duty day. As soon as people can be together in groups, Potito says they will start planning these in-person events again.
The Wellness Team has provided a lot of new ideas to connect and bring people together, even before the COVID-19 response.
“Random Acts of Kindness Week was an initiative we started this year,” said Potito. “The Wellness Team put out baskets filled with goodies, positive notes on mirrors and randomly on desks, beauty masks, sunscreen, and lip gloss all over the base.”
Potito is passionate about helping people and families. She is passionate about bringing people together. She has served families for almost 20 years, working professionally and as a volunteer.
“I started as a Family Readiness Group volunteer for the 3-126th AVN Family Readiness Group chairperson,” said Potito: “From there, I was asked to help out the 379th Engineers during deployment and was a co-chairperson for them. Around 2005, I joined the State Family Program Team as the Family Readiness Assistant and later as the Senior Family Readiness Support Assistant.”
As the Wellness Team coordinator, Potito helps bring together the various members and support their efforts.
“It is my job to bring the whole Wellness Team together and help to coordinate our events,” said Potito: “Our team is full of creative, ambitious, caring individuals who are passionate about their programs, our Airmen, and their families. I help to keep things organized and make sure we are meeting the needs of the base along with meeting the needs of the individual programs.”
According to her, some of the program goals are to be able to offer more.
“I am hoping in the next year, we will be able to offer more morale and educational events for our members,” said Potito: “I want to know what the real needs and wants of our members are and how we can help the members to get information, or have those events. I want to continue to grow my program and the Wellness Center Team so our Airmen know they can come to the team and get the support they want and need.”
In the midst of this trying time, it’s important to not be so hard on yourself, she said.
“It’s OK to say no, I can’t get that done today, or I need a mental health day,” said Potito. “We are all human, going through a very different and difficult time, it’s OK to ask for help, to admit you can’t take on another project, or you just need some quiet time. Take time for yourself, reach out for help, and know we are all here to support you.”