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International Orthodox Charities Offers Digital Tools for Emotional and Spiritual Care
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC)’s digitized Care and Care Compass tools are proving to be adaptable resources for emotional and spiritual care in crises beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, deployed most recently amid the adverse effects of extreme winter weather across Texas.
The resources’ versatility became apparent as compound crises unfolded in Texas—from a deep freeze to power loss and then a growing water crisis—and IOCC’s US Program staff coordinated with partners and Orthodox dioceses in affected areas. Through local diocesan networks, IOCC quickly shared Care Calls to help community members, families, and neighbors check on and care for each other amid the ongoing emergency.
Care Calls uses a straightforward, phase-based script to guide callers through phone or video conversations with others, helping them feel cared for while they explore their feelings. Crafted to be used by anyone, Care Calls is an outreach tool for responding to crisis with compassion.
Developed in consultation with Orthodox clergy, licensed clinicians, counselors, and medical doctors, and under IOCC’s US Program, Care and Care Compass were created to fill a gap that appeared as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. Emotional and spiritual care—offered by specially trained volunteers called Frontliners—is a key component of IOCC’s US disaster preparedness and response initiatives. However, safety concerns amid the pandemic limited IOCC Frontliners’ ability to do this work face to face, as they normally would. Digitizing tools for emotional and spiritual care allowed the work to continue and even scale up.
“The most powerful part of this experience,” said one Frontliner after a Care Call that stayed with her, “was [that] the person receiving this call had all these thoughts, feelings, and experiences, but everyone around her had the same, and so [she had] no one to share them with; suddenly with IOCC she had a safe platform to share her story.” It was, she concluded, “a powerful moment where we gave someone voice.”
Not only IOCC Frontliners but also clergy, laypeople, and partner organizations across the nation have used the tools. Site statistics indicate that together, Care Calls and Care Compass have been viewed over 26,000 times—an indication of the programs’ reach.
If Care Calls is an outreach tool, Care Compass is a learning and teaching resource, outlining ways for individuals, families, and communities to navigate adversity with hope. From healthy grieving to cultivating stronger communities, Care Compass helps people build resilience within themselves and within their relationships. Developed by IOCC and its Frontliners, both programs equip communities and individuals with skills that will serve them in any challenge.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) is the humanitarian relief and development agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America. Since its inception in 1992, IOCC has provided more than $715 million in humanitarian relief and sustainable development programs in over 60 countries worldwide. Today, IOCC applies its expertise in humanitarian response to natural and manmade crises in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the United States, offering assistance based solely on need.