As we all struggle though this pandemic it is common to experience feelings of stress or anxiety. What we are going through is an example of trauma which is defined as a deeply distressing or disturbing experience. It can overwhelm our ability to cope and leave us with feelings of helplessness. Although we are in this together, as individuals, we experience and process through trauma differently.

Relief is on the way through the COVID Recovery Iowa initiative, which offers free counseling to Iowans of any age who have been affected in any way by this health emergency. The first of its kind, this program was started after a nearly $1 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the Iowa Department of Human Services. DHS has contracted with five agencies throughout the state to provide services.

Currently involved with COVID Recovery Iowa are Morgan Newman and Bonnie Miller. They serve as virtual outreach counselors through Heartland Family Service, one of the five providers.

Newman, a local resident, is the office manager at Winterset Dental. She is also completing studies towards a masters degree in Social Work. Bonnie Miller’s ties to Madison County include having attended Winterset Junior High before returning to Greenfield in 2000 to then graduate from Nodaway Valley in 2004. Miller’s father still lives in the community.

The two women, who had met as children in Greenfield, were brought together again by a mutual friend, Karen Hyatt, a grant administrator with DHS of Iowa.

“I would like Madison County to know that they are not alone and we’re here for them,” Newman commented. “We are a rural county and we know things can be tough, but residents don’t have to suffer through the emotions alone. We can help you!”

Newman and Miller are available to assist anyone looking for specific resources within their community. Counseling sessions are available by video, chat or phone as volunteers and 105 staffed professionals from various backgrounds serve as virtual counselors.

“Sometimes I serve as someone who just listens. Some folks need social interaction right now because they are so isolated and it’s something we can do.” she explained. “It is important to decipher that this is different from therapy and should not be used as a replacement. If you need help, we can assist in finding the proper professional.”

In addition to counseling and social interaction, COVID Recovery Iowa also offers activity ideas, virtual concerts and camps, workshops, yoga and cooking classes, coping techniques, support groups, and help locating or navigating existing resources within one’s community.

Iowans can access services from COVID Recovery Iowa with the following options:

Call 800-447-1985 to connect with a counselor specializing in rural issues and agriculture, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Call the Iowa Warm Line, 844-775-9276, to connect with a peer counselor or request to get in touch with a COVID Recovery Iowa counselor.

Visit and complete a contact form in order for a counselor to get back with you. The goal of the site is to respond to every request within 24 hours.

The number one objective of COVID Recovery Iowa is resilience. By helping people of all ages find support and learn new strategies to cope with the pandemic in a variety of creative ways.

Managing editor at the Madisonian.