Resilience in times of hardship
Born and raised in Iowa, Aaron Horsfield feels right at home in Pittsburgh. As Program Director for UPMC Health Plan, Aaron oversees operations and manages team members for print and fulfillment for the Insurance Service Division while working with the operations and business strategy teams on issues like operational efficiency initiatives and fostering intra/inter-state growth and expansion.
While he’s missing the face-to-face connection, Aaron feels more connected to his team than ever before. Between coffee hours in the mornings and happy hours in the evenings, they have made an intentional and conscious effort to come together; replacing the ability to see each other in person. Noting optimizations like the lack of a commute, increased productively and the ease of virtual meetings, Aaron wouldn’t be surprised if telework becomes more of the norm.
“Our team adapted quickly and pulled together to make everything happen. We’ve only been together since 2019 but we’re focused on modernization and streamlining so the transition wasn’t a challenge for us,” Aaron shared.
Though he is optimistic about positive changes to our work culture in a post-pandemic world, Aaron is concerned about how the less fortunate among us will rebound. Social determinants of health (the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age) will be impacted by this crisis, especially in vulnerable populations. Essentially, those who lacked access to food, were economically unstable, or in poor health will be at an even greater disadvantage.
Through his participation in United Way’s Connect U program, Aaron recently received a six-week education on the challenges facing people in our community. “I didn’t grow up here, but I feel like I have truly gotten to know more about Pittsburgh through my time in Connect U. I had no idea how many communities United Way serves – children, seniors, veterans, families – they really are working to help everyone,” Aaron said. “United Way is working to create a stronger region by helping those in the greatest need.”
Before the pandemic, Aaron’s Connect U cohort visited United Way’s PA 2-1-1 Southwest call center to learn how the 24/7 helpline operates and meet one of the professionally trained Resource Navigators. Since COVID-19 hit our community, 2-1-1 has answered more calls, texts and chats than ever before and has been a vital source of help and hope to those in need.
Aaron also recalled how they learned about the RFP (request for proposal) process, how United Way evaluates and chooses the agencies they fund. “I was honestly surprised how thorough the vetting was and the level of reporting done to ensure the funds were being used where they would do the most good. I wish more people were aware of that.”
“I’m so impressed by how United Way is working to fill the gaps for people in need and rallying others together to donate or volunteer,” Aaron said. “Together, we are resilient in times of hardship.”
1. What are you most looking forward to when the quarantine is lifted?
Traveling. I’m looking forward to a vacation and seeing my family in Iowa. I also can’t wait to laugh and be with friends (in-person).
2. Any advice for those struggling right now?
It’s okay to take some time and adjust. Be honest about how you’re feeling and find time for things that bring you balance.
3. How have you been staying active?
I’ve been hiking and making sure to move every day. Before this, I’d go to the (cross-fit) gym or do something active with friends 5-6 times a week so I’m trying to keep it up. Walking or hiking gives me time to reflect and that’s so important for mental health.
4. How do you think society will change after this?
I think we’re going to be so much more grateful for the little things. A baseball game. Going out with friends. We’re going back to basics.
5. What quote or mantra do you live by?
Find the silver lining. It’s always there.