There’s a profound word picture in the Bible that depicts how we can become refined through trials, much like gold becomes when it is put through the fire. It’s a parallel to the process of character growth, a concept I’m sure many of us can relate to today.
As we face difficult situations and uncertainty as a result of COVID-19, it’s natural to become overwhelmed and afraid. In my line of work, communications, I hear daily, through Zoom meetings, phone calls and social media about Victoria residents worrying for themselves and their families. They have a lot of questions – “What should I do if I’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19?” “What’s being done to protect our community?” “When will this all end?” – Questions that, when left unanswered, could lead to increased anxiety and frustration.
It’s during these times that communications can be used for good. Communicating facts, not rumors that instill fear, will help us all better understand the evolving situation we’re faced with. To best protect the health of ourselves, those around us and our loved ones, Victoria residents must stay informed about COVID-19 in our community and how our local officials are responding to it. There’s wisdom in equipping ourselves with vital information.
For the past several months since COVID-19 evolved, Victoria’s City and County communication officers have worked with local leaders and elected officials to provide timely, accurate information to the Victoria residents we serve. After all, we’re in this together. We have done so through Victoria’s Emergency Operations Center, a collaborative task force involving key leaders from the County and City who are trained to respond to various types of emergencies that could occur in our community.
Victoria’s communications team is part of the Emergency Operations Center and works to maintain routine press briefings to help relay vital information to the public in a timely manner. To ensure its success, briefings are available to view or listen on different platforms, and local media and a sign language interpreter who reaches the hearing-impaired or deaf community provide additional means of reaching the public. We’re extremely appreciative of their support during this situation. Outside of the press briefings, we continue to share daily information through press releases, social media, public service announcement videos, our COVID-19 hotline and our website at www.victoriatxoem.org. We’ve also printed and distributed health-related flyers throughout the community where residents may have limited or no access to internet, cable or radio. This effort to be accessible and reach our entire community continues to be an ongoing question we ask ourselves daily to find how we can improve.
No matter how long this situation lasts, Victoria’s communications team will continue to be a source of accurate, timely information to the public.
Working in Victoria’s Emergency Operations Center, I have had the privilege of seeing daily the hard work and passion to serve that goes into every decision and effort made to combat COVID-19 in our community. It’s inspiring to see all levels of local leadership, including organizations and businesses, come together for one cause: to serve and protect. When we’re all put through the fire, so to speak, it’s important how we choose to respond: we can choose to remain strong, to allow ourselves to be stretched and grow and to hold onto our faith, even when things around us appear discouraging. It’s important that we come together as a community and encourage each other in the right direction. When we stay informed, we help others stay informed, and there is wisdom and a sense of comfort in that. It’s during these times that communication can, and should, be used for good.
Ashley Strevel is the director of Communications & Public Affairs for the City of Victoria.