AmeriCorps Member of the Month – Dayna Kirby

Each month we recognize an AmeriCorps member serving in Utah for going above and beyond the pledge they took to “Get Things Done.” This month we are proud to recognize Dayna Kirby who is serving with BYU Family, Home and Social Sciences (BYU FHSS) at the Utah State Hospital.

The BYU Family, Home and Social Science (FHSS) AmeriCorps program engages members from the BYU FHSS student body to increase the capacity of non-profit mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities. Under the supervision of a licensed mental health professional, AmeriCorps members serve in several service locations along the Wasatch Front, providing direct clinical services to clients seeking treatment.

Dayna Kirby exemplifies the values and mission of AmeriCorps through her service with the Utah State Hospital in Provo, UT. She is currently serving patients who are chronically mentally ill and court-ordered for restoration of competency in providing mental health services and therapy within a multidisciplinary team. She has been responsible and professional in her service, been creative in helping her patients with their treatment goals and treated everyone with dignity and respect.

Dayna was specifically invited by the Superintendent of the hospital, Dallas Earnshaw, to join the wellness committee of the hospital after a positive interaction with her during her training. This committee was formed due to the hospital reaching a first-time critical staffing shortage and employee burnout that was exacerbated because of the pandemic. This created a unique challenge since the hospital needs a certain number of people for all services to be rendered. Dayna, along with her supervisors’ help, created a hospital wide “summer bucket list challenge” for all hospital employees. Each department is invited to participate by sending in pictures of them doing the activity and every month the unit with the most entries win a prize. Dayna was able to create and work on the intricacies of the activity so that they could have a place to submit and keep track of participation. The goal was to get employees to take care of their own mental health and self-care while creating a positive working environment.

Dayna brings her calming presence, her passion of treating patients with dignity and respect, and creativity in working with the chronically mentally ill. She is a team player and works well with others, to which is the focal point of the hospital in providing the best quality of care for the patients. Dayna’s supervisor is impressed with her work ethic, her service, and her desire to bring hope to her patience regardless of their circumstances.

Q&A with Dayna

Why did you choose to serve as an AmeriCorps member with BYU Family, Home and Social Sciences? 
I chose to serve as an AmeriCorps member with BYU Family, Home and Social Sciences because it is built into the social work program at BYU. 

What was a typical day like for you in your role?
A typical day in my role included providing individual therapy, to increase insight into mental illness, and reduce negative symptoms of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and schizoaffective disorders; as well as co-facilitating group therapy on topics including self-compassion, art, and competency restoration to increase client ability to manage their mental health. 

What did you like most about serving with BYU FHSS at the Utah State Hospital in Provo?
The thing I liked most was the opportunity to serve on the wellness/resiliency committee that was formed shortly after I started my internship. Being a member of this committee let me see how a large agency interacts across the different departments. It also increased my insight with different policies it is important to be aware of on a state level. Many of our meetings’ content focused on what could be done to increase resiliency and support staff throughout the hospital. It allowed me time with the hospital’s superintendent and professionals across mental health. It was an eye-opening experience that I was glad to be a part of. 

What did serving as an AmeriCorps member teach you about yourself and/or your community?
Serving as an AmeriCorps member taught me firsthand about the importance of resources within the community. As a social work student connecting clients with resources starts with first connecting with the resources myself, and I had a fantastic start with this as I learned a lot about AmeriCorps. 

Do you have any advice for prospective AmeriCorps members or volunteers?
Advice I would give to prospective AmeriCorps members/volunteers would include being open to the experiences that the service will bring. Working with people is messy because we really only have control over ourselves. In opening yourself up to the thought that as long as you continue to try your best and focus on what is within your control, it’s easier not to get stressed out by the things outside of that. 

We extend our congratulations to Dayna for being recognized as the AmeriCorps Member of the Month and thank her for her dedicated service.

What is AmeriCorps? AmeriCorps is your moment to take the path less traveled, to break the status quo, to stop talking about the problem and be the solution. Join AmeriCorps and you can mentor and tutor kids, rebuild a community after disaster, help veterans, or work with local communities to alleviate poverty. There are thousands of opportunities to choose from, find the one that fits you.