MELISSA SWIRE: Dr. Sabrina's Executive Assistant, Calendar Magician; and email extraordinaire.
ABOUT THE AWARD
Thirty military and veteran caregivers joined the 225 past and present Dole Caregiver Fellows who represent all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia to bring attention to the tremendous challenges facing America’s 5.5 million hidden heroes—the spouses, parents, family members, and other loved ones who provide more than $14 billion in voluntary care for wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans every year.
Dole Caregiver Fellows are leaders, community organizers, and advocates for military caregivers in their states and nationwide. They are trained by the Foundation and empowered to share their stories directly with national leaders in the White House, Congress, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and other government agencies, as well as decision-makers in the business, entertainment, faith, and nonprofit sectors. The Fellows provide feedback to the Foundation, its coalition partners, and government and community leaders on the most pressing issues concerning military caregivers and influence positive change on behalf of these hidden heroes.
The role of these Fellows has never been more important as America’s caregivers are under unprecedented stress due to the threat of the coronavirus.
“Our eighth class of Dole Caregiver Fellows is bringing a new set of unique voices to our mission, but all share similar stories of strength, resilience, and hope in caring for their wounded warriors,” said Steve Schwab, CEO of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. “As they care for their veterans, we are grateful for their passion, wisdom, and willingness to come together and advocate for their fellow hidden heroes. They are the heart and soul of our work.”
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Stabilizing her husband Jeff’s health and moving to a new home away from friends and family brought a feeling to Melissa Swire all too common to many military caregivers—the isolation from no longer being connected to other military spouses.
Jeff suffered an injury during a mission that caused him to need surgery, which resulted in sepsis and irreversible damage to his neck and spine. Due to the initially invisible nature of his illness, Melissa had to advocate for surgeons to take Jeff's symptoms seriously. Had it not been for that determination, he would not be here today. In addition to chronic pain, Jeff also battles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). At one point, Jeff became extremely depressed and was having suicidal thoughts. Melissa had to leave her career to care for Jeff full-time, and when they had to sell their home due to the financial impact, Melissa had to do some outside-the-box thinking. She learned new skills and soon began creating unique homemade products to sell on Etsy.
As Jeff's caregiver, Melissa makes his meals, manages his medication, handles the finances, advocates at all his medical appointments, and supports him emotionally. Together, they co-founded Patriots Cove, a nonprofit organization in their community to provide an outdoor retreat for veterans and their caregivers. Melissa says that this saved Jeff's life because it has given him a new mission and purpose, and she also sees it as her mission to help veterans and caregivers find healthy outlets. Melissa now serves as Patriot Cove's director of programs and partnerships.
TTP: Melissa, what do you love most about working with TTP?
Melissa: What I most enjoy about working with TTP is working with the BEST TEAM EVER! At TTP we celebrate our wins together, both professionally and personally. Sharing this honor with them was an amazing moment and one that I will always cherish. They are my cheerleaders and among the first that I want to share victories with.
TTP: What excites you most about the future of TTP?
Melissa: I continue to hear success stories from our clients. Opening up an email and hearing that we have made their journey less stressful and brighter makes me want to reach more and more entrepreneurs. I was a solopreneur for many years. Though successful, it was at the cost of my family and downtime. TTP strives to help business owners build businesses that focus on life first; that has made all the difference.
TTP: How would you describe the TTP Team and how did they react to your honor?
Melissa: It is difficult to write my feelings about my team without crying (which we often do in our daily huddles and team meetings). We are a family and really do lead with love. I can always trust that I have their support. We want the best for one another and our clients, and someone is always there to assist even when a task may belong to another, with no complaints. Dr. Sabrina is the most generous, loving, focused leader that I have been blessed to work with. The TTP team is my rock, inspiration, and motivation to be better at everything that I do. Every day we practice leading with love, shining bright, and being a gift from our gifts!
TTP: What is one of your biggest take-aways from your work with TTP?
Melissa: In the past, I worked for companies that expected me to show up, even when sick, and never take vacations. At TTP, I am learning that it is okay to have a team to lean on, ask for help, and create work that supports life. Our team pitches in and steps up for one another, and they are the gift that keeps on giving.
Congratulations, MELISSA! We are so proud of you and honored to have you as part of the team! You are the epitome of our immutable laws and we couldn't be more grateful for the talents and drive you bring to the table.
Are you ready to Take YOUR Life Back and create a Great Place to Work?!
Dr. Sabrina Starling, The Business Psychologist™ and author of the How to Hire the Best series is the founder of Tap the Potential. At Tap the Potential, we work to free business owners from the constant demands of a growing business. We believe work supports life, not the other way around. Through our proprietary Better Business, Better Life™ coaching program, we transform cash-sucking businesses into highly profitable, Great Places to Work, then send business owners on a 4 Week Vacation™ to celebrate that accomplishment. After the first year in our program, our clients have more time for what matters most and more money in their bank account than ever before.
Never one to accept the status quo or back down from a challenge, Dr. Sabrina’s How to Hire the Best series grew from her desire to solve the toughest hiring challenges interfering with her clients’ growth and profitability. What sprang from her experience working with entrepreneurs in rural areas catapulted her into becoming the world’s leading expert in attracting top talent in small businesses — no matter what hiring challenges those businesses are facing — and earned Tap the Potential’s reputation as the go-to resource for entrepreneurs committed to creating Great Places to Work with thriving coaching cultures and highly engaged team members working from strengths. Her latest book, How to Hire the Best: The Contractor’s Ultimate Guide to Attracting Top Performing Employees, is an International Best Seller on Amazon! In this powerful book, Dr. Sabrina shares crucial hiring strategies to transform your small business AND improve your personal life. With her background in psychology, and years of driving profit in small business, Dr. Starling knows what it takes to find, keep and get exceptional performance out of your biggest investment — your team members.
Dr. Sabrina is working on her next books: How to Hire the Best: The Entrepreneur’s Ultimate Guide to Attracting Top Performing Team Members (available Sept 15) and The 4 Week Vacation: Work Supports Life, Not the Other Way Around (available Dec 1; featuring many of our Trailblazing 4 Week Vacation™ Retreat Participants!)