Helping workers and their families get back on their feet after a workplace injury or other workplace-displacing health event takes more than legal aid, insurance, and even doctors. Injured workers are people first, and people have emotional needs. Guest Danielle Troxel is managing director of Kind Souls Foundation, a non-profit, donation and volunteer driven organization dedicated to helping displaced workers with the emotional support and services navigation assistance they need to recover.
Many of us see ourselves as our job. It’s part of our identity. Being stripped of that routine may lead to feelings of isolation or loss of identity. Having someone to talk to about those feelings can help people adjust and move forward.
Assistance is offered discretely, even anonymously. There’s no need to provide a case number or any details. No insurance companies need to be involved and no medical records are needed. Kind Souls Foundation simply wants to help.
If a client or someone you know has been displaced from work due to a health event and could use emotional support, they can contact the Kind Souls Foundation at their website, https://www.kindsoulsfoundation.org/ and schedule a session. Help is available online through a face-to-face video connection, through text and chat sessions, or by phone.
Sponsorship opportunities are available at the Kind Souls Foundation website. Individual donations are accepted online at https://kindsoulsfoundation.charityproud.org/Donate .
Special thanks to our
Intro: Workers Comp Matters, the podcast dedicated to the laws, the landmark cases, and the people that makeup the diverse world of workers’ compensation. Here are your hosts, Jud and Alan Pierce.
Judson Pierce: Hello, this is Jud Pierce and welcome to another edition of Workers Comp Matters. Today, we have a wonderful guest on our program, Danielle Troxel. She joins us today from, I believe, Sacramento, California, which is across the country from where we are in Salem, Massachusetts, but it’s a delight to have her on. Danielle is the managing director of an organization called Kind Souls Foundation and basically she’s going to talk a little bit with us about the origins of the group and how they’ve expanded and what their mission is and how it will affect all of us for the better and our clients more specifically. So Danielle, it is a pleasure to have you on today. Welcome.
Danielle Troxel: Thank you, Jud. I’m so happy to be here.
Judson Pierce: So one of the quotes I looked up, one of the things you said once was it is a lot easier than you think to be a kind soul. And that certainly struck me as something so important and so relevant in today’s world and specifically perhaps in the world of our clients. Could you talk a little bit about the organization you belong to and what its mission is?
Danielle Troxel: Yes. Thank you. So I’m coming here from Kind Souls Foundation. We are a warm line service for families impacted by a work displacing healthcare event. So that includes workers’ compensation, disability, or anyone who’s out of work for an injury or a diagnosis that’s preventing them from returning to their job. And we also service their family members. So we talk to spouses or caretakers of people who are facing that work displacement.
Judson Pierce: Right. And so these are folks who obviously have questions or issues that may not be most suited for an insurance adjuster, for example, to take on or his or her attorney to take on. Right? These are people who they’re speaking with that at least have some interest in psychology and have a basis in talking and giving some aid. Right?
Danielle Troxel: So our volunteers are either peers being some injured workers themselves or you’re right, people that are interested in giving back to the mental health field and other industry professionals who’ve either retired or are looking to give back to those most affected in our industry. And our warm line provides our service for the emotional support and resource navigation aspect that we know is really missing and we provide the empathetic human element back to our healthcare and claim systems.
Judson Pierce: So many of my clients talk about their feelings of being out of the workforce for any length of time, how it’s sort of a devaluing of their life and what they are, who they see themselves as. Sometimes these folks see themselves as what their occupation is. Do you also see this in receiving these calls from these folks?
Danielle Troxel: Absolutely. Devaluing is the keyword there. It can feel really isolating and frustrating to want to go back to work and you’re prevented from being able to do so, and then you don’t have anyone to talk to about it. And that’s why we’re here at Kind Souls. We’re here to be that sounding board, the listening ear release valve, if you will, to better achieve a positive approach towards recovery or adjustment to a new reality that a lot of these people are facing.
Judson Pierce: Yeah. And I note that people on your board have also been impacted by the system, right? Folks have been injured themselves in the workplace.
Danielle Troxel: That’s correct.
Judson Pierce: Yeah. That’s great. As well as the people that are those that provide the service when you call. And it’s easy to connect with someone relatively, isn’t it? Can you tell the listeners here how folks can connect?
Danielle Troxel: Yeah, so it’s really easy. You just visit our website and click on our services and we provide our services completely virtually across the country. There’s three different modes of a warm line session that you can schedule that would be either virtual, face to face, similar to like a Zoom platform, and then texting and chat sessions or telephone calls. So we really work hard to meet our callers wherever they’re at and in whatever mode they’re most comfortable communicating to best serve them. We strongly believe that with support, our callers have the knowledge and power within themselves to do what’s best for them.
So we’re here to encourage that positive approach, as I mentioned, and also empower the people that need it most.
Judson Pierce: It’s totally discreet, right? Someone doesn’t have to provide their claim number or their insurer or whom they work for. Correct?
Danielle Troxel: Exactly. Our callers can make contact with us completely anonymously and we don’t ever collect any information that they’re not comfortable sharing with us. We’ll never ask for a claim number or insurance information and we are more focused on the emotional support aspect. So what they are dealing with emotionally and if they need any resources, we’re here to provide those during the call.
Judson Pierce: Thank you. And knowing that we were going to speak today, I had the opportunity to speak with a client earlier about her basically being injured and being out of work for almost a year now. How she feels like she’s starting to feel the symptoms of depression come on. She feels like she really needs to talk with someone and she’s unsure whether or not I’m going to be able to successfully argue to bring in that element to her present workers’ comp claim, which is a physical one. And I’m sure a lot of other practitioners out there have the same sense that after a while of being out of work, people can become somewhat down. And it’s only natural that workers’ comp would maybe not want to pay for treatment. So this is a wonderful opportunity for people to really talk about what they’re going through for free and for something that a workers’ comp insurer doesn’t even have to know about or pay for. Right?
Danielle Troxel: Yeah, we find that there’s hesitation. So, I’ve been in the industry for almost 14 years now, and people feel hesitant to express what they’re going through emotionally with their employer, sometimes their attorney, and especially their adjuster, because they don’t want to complicate their claim or their main goal is getting back to work. And maybe they feel like they can just tough it out and get through things. But knowing that Kind Souls Foundation is out here and you can kind of use us, they can use us as an outlet and a sounding board, someone with a compassionate listening ear to just talk. I’ve had conversations with people where they’re like, I don’t want to be a burden to anyone in my family, so I kind of keep this to myself, and I am there for them to have that outlet.
Judson Pierce: That’s great. Why don’t we take this time to just hear a word from one of our sponsors? And we will be right back with more from Danielle Troxel of Kind Souls Foundation.
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Judson Pierce: And we’re back with our Kind Souls guest, Danielle Troxel. Danielle, could you tell us a little bit about the origins of the group?
Danielle Troxel: Absolutely, I’d love to. Thank you. So, our founder, Teresa Colian, started Kind Souls Foundation after they experienced firsthand the lack of guidance and support that individual space in our complex healthcare systems. Now, prior to launching their business together, Teresa and her good friend Jennifer Alexey(ph) started their business. And Jennifer was sadly diagnosed with cancer and after several years, lost her battle with the disease. During those unfortunate times, her partner and their family members and caretakers really struggled to find a readily available resource in managing their emotional needs, but also financial hurdles and things like finding some help for laundry services.
And so, Jennifer and Teresa talked about starting a foundation and giving back. After Jennifer sadly passed away, everyone would say to Teresa, she was such a kind soul. And so Teresa was moved to start Kind Souls Foundation with the intent to combat that shortfall that Jen experienced by offering our free warm line services for families across the country.
Judson Pierce: Yeah. That is such an amazing gift that was given out of this tragedy comes this blessing. Really. And you have found it through your own work and vocational skills. Tell us a little bit about what brought you to this.
Danielle Troxel: Absolutely. I call it my manifested dream job because I’ve been studying psychology while in the industry, like I mentioned, for about 14 years now. And I’m currently getting my master’s degree in psychology at Sac State. And I remember when I went back to school, I told my friend, I don’t know what I’m going to do with a psychology degree, but it’s where my heart is. It’s where I’m passionate about, maybe something will come along in the industry. And here I found Kind Souls Foundation. I volunteered for a few months and then was just really moved to join the organization and have since came on full time as the managing director. And that was in September of 2022.
Judson Pierce: Yeah. That’s great. Congratulations. And obviously, manifesting one’s destiny is what we are all trying to aspire to. And there are lots of people who have joined on to this group who are not necessarily psychologists, but who are sponsors. They provide the funding because you’re a 501(c)(3) right? And that you need to run your organization and allow this as a free service for people to use. Can you tell us a little bit about some of the sponsors and a little bit about them?
Danielle Troxel: Yes, I’d love to. Our sponsors are donating the Kind Souls because they believe in our mission and our vision to create this important conversation around mental health in the industry. We’ve partnered with different industry leaders like Ametros and other employers and industry experts, or like I mentioned, those just willing to give back to our cause. We partner with different organizations to help raise awareness. And then also as a 501(c)(3), as you mentioned, it’s important that we receive donations because that’s how we operate. We rely on them for all of our funding and work.
Judson Pierce: Absolutely. And there are events that people can take advantage of to support your mission. There are a couple of these that happen during the year. Can you tell us a little bit about them, the dates, even if you want to give them, or just generally what these events are? I noticed on your website that you have a virtual and an in-person 5K run, which would be fun. Tell us a little bit.
Danielle Troxel: Yeah. So our 5K is going to happen on August 26. That’s a Saturday, and we’re offering it virtually if you want to join anywhere across the country. A couple of people in Australia have expressed interest, believe it or not, and then it’s also taking place live in person in Northern California in Folsom, up here, where I’m from, with one of our other ambassadors, Clinton Memor, who’s leading that. We also host cocktails and connections with Kind Souls at various work comp conferences.
Next on the agenda is national SHRM. We think it’s important to partner with HR teams at employers because they have a direct line to the employees in need. And so I’m going to that conference to help raise awareness of our services and really just network, gain momentum on our word of mouth and awareness.
Judson Pierce: Yeah. And I want to make sure that you deliver to our audience, not just at the end of the program, but, like, now, either the email, the website, or the phone number that someone can literally pick up the phone and call to schedule a 30 minutes session. What is that phone number, Danielle?
Danielle Troxel: Yes. So our phone number is 833 Kind Soul. And our website is kindsoulsfoundation.org.
Judson Pierce: 833 Kind Soul, kindsoulsfoundation.org. Wonderful. And we will be taking another very brief break to hear from one of our sponsors. And we will be back with the last segment with Danielle Troxel from all the way in the great State of California on this edition of Workers Comp Matters.
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Judson Pierce: And we’re back. Danielle, you were talking about partnerships and people who would like to sponsor this group. How are partners able to do that? Who should they contact, and how are they recognized with your organization or through events?
Danielle Troxel: Yeah, so if someone’s interested in getting involved with Kind Souls and giving back to our mission as I mentioned, all of our funding comes from donations, so we would love to speak with you and talk. We offer three different tiers of giving a sponsor, patron, and regent level. And those come with social media recognition, and we put our sponsors on our website. The highest level regent comes with also a logo and profile on our sponsor page. And you can visit our website to see what that looks like. And then we also provide in-person event recognition. So at our 5K, we’re going to have different signs along the trail with arrows directing the runners, but also recognizing our sponsors contribution to our cause at the Cocktails and Connections event that it’s similar sponsor board.
And then our donors. We have an FAQ section on our website that explains more about what our donors want to know, how they’ll be recognized, and what comes with a sponsorship. We don’t share any qualitative data. However, we provide a quarterly utilization report because some of our employer partners have been interested to know how many contacts we’re receiving from their employees. So it’s strictly just a qualitative X number of callers if that information is shared with us. Because as I mentioned, the calls can be anonymous.
Judson Pierce: Right. And they’re generally 30 minutes or so?
Danielle Troxel: Correct.
Judson Pierce: And there’s no limit, right, to the amount of sessions you might feel you need?
Danielle Troxel: That’s correct. Our callers are not limited in how many times they can book a session. Importantly, we don’t offer crisis services. So we’re a warm line and in that we are a warm conversation based call. If there is a need for a crisis situation, then we would escalate the call to the appropriate resource. So as long as the calls are useful to our callers and they’re getting the help that they need, we’ll talk to them.
Judson Pierce: And we recently did a podcast. We focused on this group a couple of times in our 15 years of doing this Workers Comp Matters, but it’s called Kids Chance. I know you’re well aware of this group and I remember hearing a quote from you that you want to be just as big as Kids Chance. Tell us the interrelationship between your two groups because I think that the Souls and the missions in each are very similar.
Danielle Troxel: I feel the same way. I think that the work that Kids Chance is doing is so phenomenal and they’re providing that financial need and help for the families of injured workers, as you know, and Kind Souls could be here to supplement that. We’re focused on the mental health impact and providing the emotional support and resources to those affected. And as you can imagine, it goes hand in hand. There’s a financial need, but then there’s also the emotional aspect that often might go overlooked in our industry.
Judson Pierce: Yeah. Have you seen the amount of calls go up in just your short time?
Danielle Troxel: Oh yeah, substantially. We’re working really hard to raise awareness and it’s showing in our number of calls.
Judson Pierce: That’s a good thing, I would imagine. Seeing an increase in something is not always a good thing, but in this instance it probably is. Right?
Danielle Troxel: Absolutely.
Judson Pierce: Sure. Coming off a pandemic where our whole nation was sort of out of work in some respects for either temporary period or a very long period that might be ongoing, workplace displacement has got to be one of the leading factors in someone’s stress level. And to have an outlet is so important.
Danielle Troxel: Right, exactly. We know that over 40% of employees who miss work because of an injury are experiencing a psychosocial barrier to their recovery. Based on our research in that that psychosocial barrier could be a lack of support, whether from their family, from the industry, or they’re experiencing depression or anxiety symptoms.
We’re not a mental health treatment line. We’re not certified therapists or counselors. We’re a peer service. But just talking helps.
Judson Pierce: And talking, but also getting some action steps. Like, for example, you and I, in our pre-call, we talked about how a counselor, someone listening, can put in some information, do a little research, or help pinpoint other groups that might be needed by the person calling in, right?
Danielle Troxel: That’s correct. Absolutely. We have provided emergency shelter resources, in-person support groups for grief and loss, and other financial need assistance. So oftentimes, our resource navigation is two other free services that are local to our caller.
Judson Pierce: How do you personally feel after you do some of these calls, Danielle?
Danielle Troxel: Well, this is where my heart and my passion lies. And I just feel better. I feel lighter. Just like you do when you give back. It helps you as much as it does help the other person on the end of the phone.
Judson Pierce: Yeah. You can’t beat that feeling, especially if it’s part of your job, right. And you know that you’re helping other people. So, again, folks, listening, it’s really easy to connect with this group. 833 Kind Souls. Right? Did I say right?
Danielle Troxel: Kind Soul. 833 Kind Soul. The easiest way I would suggest is visiting our website, kindsoulsfoundation.org, and clicking on the services tab.
Judson Pierce: Excellent. And, folks, I just want to take this opportunity once again to thank Danielle Troxel for coming on and explaining what she does so well and what inspires her every day. What inspires me just by hearing about it. Kind Souls Foundation. Danielle, thank you so much for being a part of this program today.
Danielle Troxel: Jud, thank you for having me. It was my honor.
Judson Pierce: And until the next time, folks. This is Jud Pierce from Salem, Massachusetts. Make it a day that matters.