When Nicole Pries first arrived in Richmond, she never thought she'd be here six years later, but rather working abroad, helping children who suffer from war trauma.
Pries came to Richmond to complete her master's degree in social work at Virginia Commonwealth University. She began work at the ChildSavers guidance clinic, which offers outpatient mental health therapy for children. The ChildSavers trauma-response program was in its early stages and Vivian Mann, the organization's clinical director, quickly saw Pries as a leader who could “take the program from infancy to becoming a stabilized part of Richmond's system.”
The program offers services for children who have been exposed to trauma. To help make it more effective Pries established partnerships with the Richmond Ambulance Authority, the Richmond Police Department, the Department of Social Services and the VCU Health System.
“Paramedics and officers often only saw the dark side of how kids were affected,” Pries says, “and we made that connection with hope.”
ChildSavers clinicians are on call around the clock, and through the partnership, paramedics, police and social workers can ask these clinicians to respond on the scene when a child may have been exposed to trauma and render “psychological first aid” Mann says, to “prevent additional symptoms from occurring from the traumatic event.”
Outside of ChildSavers, Pries trained last spring for the Ukrop's Monument Avenue 10K. She intended to run in honor of a close family friend, Ed Johnson, who had been diagnosed with cancer. But her plans were upended after she broke her foot weeks before the event. Still, she traversed the entire course in a wheelchair and raised $1,500 for the Massey Cancer Center. Johnson has since died, and Pries says she'll run the course on foot next year, again in his honor and to raise money for the center.