Neighborhood Partnerships staff recently convened in person to celebrate and recognize each other’s accomplishments and progress from the past year. In a time of remote work in an organization whose team members focus on very different aspects of social justice, housing justice, and equity, it was not only a time for us to brag, congratulate, and connect about the work, but also a time for accountability and to ask for support.
Despite the many awesome accomplishments that were shared, what sticks with me is the hour dedicated to discussing what our leadership team called “community care.” How do we as staff take care of each other and ourselves in a time of rapid change, uncertainty, and increased stress compounded by a pandemic and threats to our communities? For a staff that genuinely cares about the work, how do we create healthy boundaries that allow us to serve our communities but also maintain positive mental health?
As nonprofit professionals, we often take the work personally. We see our successes and setbacks as directly connected to the tenuous thread of justice. Many times, we don’t see the connection between our relationship to the work and our relationships to each other–how a seemingly small brush-off at a meeting or a failure to address hurt feelings can weigh on us and our colleagues. These tiny cuts add up.
This pause for community care was a direct call to slow down–a strategy and value we adopted from our yearlong training with the Center for Equity and Inclusion–and to attend to each other’s needs. Within that hour, staff opened up about their challenges, shared how they are experiencing our more disconnected workplace, and talked about how we might be able to do things better—how we might be able to better care for one another.
Again, the day was about celebrating and documenting our work accomplishments. But for me the bigger and better outcome was the work of connection and care that we attended to, to make sure that we took care of us.