Welcome to our our Team Member Spotlights! Our team has been changing and growing this past year, which is why we wanted to re-introduce our team members to you, and give you a closer look at who's behind the wheel here at YFFR. We hope you enjoy this monthly blog series.
Title: volunteer Coordinator
As the Volunteer Coordinator, I recruit volunteers and connect the talents of the volunteers with the needs of YFFR to complete our mission. YFFR is a non-profit organization with a mission to provide yoga and yoga strategies to as many first responders as possible, both nationally and internationally.
The Volunteer Coordinator identifies the needs of the Leadership Team and the organization to connect the volunteers and their talents. In order to complete our mission, we rely on a network of volunteers to provide their many talents in several areas of YFFR. Just a few of those talents include grant writing, fundraising, web design, and legal support amongst many other talents to support the Leadership Team as well as the YFFR mission.
I was born in Maryland, but grew up in Lawrenceville, Georgia to eventually move back to Maryland after high school, in 1993. I currently live in southern Maryland, with my husband and two daughters.
I am a public safety “jack of all trades.”
I started my public safety journey as a volunteer Fire Fighter and Emergency Medical Technician in 1999. I worked as a 911 Operator/Dispatcher from 2001-2007. In 2006, I went back to school to obtain my Paramedic certification. I graduated the College of Southern Maryland with an A.A.S in Emergency Services Management, and a Paramedic certificate in 2008. In 2009, I was hired as a Paramedic with Charles County Department of Emergency Services, Division of EMS. In my 10 years with Charles County EMS I have served as CISM & Peer Support Coordinator, Field Training Officer, Instructor, Hazmat Technician, Marine Tactical Technician/Boat Operator, and EMS support for the Police Academy.
It’s been a fun ride, but my focus has shifted to “Helping the Helpers”.
I love to travel and experience this great big world. My top three favorite travel experiences are trekking in the Himalaya mountains for 14 days in northern India, hiking Glacier Park in Montana, and hiking in Rocky Mountain National Forest in Colorado. My other favorite hobby is to garden. I love to play in the dirt, plant seeds, and watch them grow. Yes, I am that lady that wanders her yard talking to plants like they are humans.
My side kick(s) include my husband Chris, my two daughters Alexis (19) & Kyleigh (15), and my 95 pound boy bundle of pittie love, Bentley. Chris is a FF/Paramedic Captain with Howard County Department of Fire Rescue Services with 20 years on the job. He is my number one supporter when it comes to my career and my mission with YFFR. My oldest daughter, Alexis is a sophomore at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec CA. Alexis wants to follow in our footsteps and become a first responder. She is undecided on whether she wants to be a Fire Fighter or Police Officer. We support her either way. My youngest daughter, Kyleigh is a sophomore in high school and has her sights set on McGill University in Montreal, Quebec CA. She wants to become an engineer and have nothing to do with public safety. We also support this decision. (My husband is from Montreal, Quebec CA if any of you were wondering “Why Canada?”) They ALL can make me laugh until I leak, sometimes to tears, and sometimes….well we won’t discuss that part.
Do you consider yourself a "Yogi"?
I do consider myself a yogi because it’s not just a physical practice for me but a way of life. I practice yoga daily in many ways on and off the mat. I have a regular physical practice of yoga that helps keep my physical body strong. I practice Yin yoga (mindful practice) to keep my emotional and spiritual body strong.
My practice of yoga also includes breathing practices when I am on a chaotic scene at work, or about to deliver bad news to a family member.
I also meditate when I am gardening or working in the yard.
In 2016 I hit my breaking point with PTS that almost ended my career. I was suffering from panic attacks, anxiety, and depression that left me questioning what my purpose was in life. I sought out help from resources through Peer Support and my family physician. My physician wanted to start me on medication, but I didn’t want to just be medicated. I wanted to fix the root cause of the problem. Therapy was helpful to get me through the crisis but I wanted something, needed something, tools that would keep me from going down that rabbit hole again. I wanted something that I could incorporate into my daily life that would allow me to cope with the stressors from work and life in general.
That’s when I discovered yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques.
Yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques are the tools I use on the job, off the job, and everywhere in between - to this day. It has had such a huge impact on me and my career I want to share it with everyone!
I got my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in 2018 so that I could do just that. I wanted to develop a program to share my tools with other first responders. That’s when I discovered Yoga For First Responders®. Viola’! The program already existed! <fist pump in the air> Olivia Mead had brilliantly researched, developed, and done the ground work building YFFR. I couldn’t wait to join the team! I could jump right into teaching and supporting my fellow first responders.
I am so stoked to be attending YFFR Instructor School, Class 013, in January 2021 and supporting the team as the Volunteer Coordinator.
Foundations of: yoga For First Responders
This class will work through tactical breath work, physical drills for strength, mobility, and proper spinal alignment, followed by a neurological reset to bring your body and mind back to regulation.
Something Unique About Me:
I love music. That may sound very vague as most people love music. So why do I consider unique about myself? Well, because I specifically love Barber Shop and acapella singing. My love of music began when I was very young and my grandfather would sing to me. He was the bass singer in a quartet called “SincerelYours” and he would take me to his rehearsals. I would sit for hours listening to his group harmonize show tunes, ballads, and other fun music. “My Wild Irish Rose” is my favorite song that he would sing. Also, I played viola for many years growing up. It’s all about the harmony for me, the under tone and contrast of sound.
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:
I love CHOCOLATE! White chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and any combination in between. Bonus is with melted peanut butter drizzled on top.
Yellowstone; Call the Midwife
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Courtney. Stay tuned for our next Team Member Spotlight in December.
- The YFFR Team