By Molly Cox
This week, our staff took a three-day retreat to eastern Maryland to sharpen our workplace skills, grow as a team, and take a moment to breathe. Sixteen months into the pandemic and our team has not stopped. Mission of Love Charities’ ten frontline staff has remained diligent and ready to serve the community. Today, the US vaccination rates are on the rise. On the other side, people hit hardest by COVID-19 are seeing unemployment benefits and rental assistance funding end. In light of this, we anticipate seeing an upsurge in client cases in the coming months.
Our senior leadership seized the opportunity to address employees’ needs via the retreat. Burnout, especially among frontline workers, has skyrocketed during the pandemic. An Indeed study found 67% of survey participants believed the global crisis has worsened burnout. Meanwhile, direct service nonprofits have not stopped to take a breath. Instead, MOLC expanded our services. Since March of 2020, we have stayed open Monday through Friday. We open one Saturday a month and offer nine workforce development courses. With the “go-go-go” mentality during the pandemic, many frontline nonprofits recognize the urgency of speaking to employees’ mental health. In an industry notorious for high burnout, nonprofits offering time to relax and additional vacation days can offset this invisible pandemic.
Cue MOLC’s staff retreat. Senior leadership fashioned it to develop the staff’s skills and provide time to unwind. Our work centered on two main topics: improving teamwork and client services. For example, a moderator led us in discussions and activities to improve our internal communication and trust. In one exercise, Social Media Manager Stephen Grasty led the blindfolded team through an obstacle course! It emphasized communicating and collaborating effectively – a lesson we will apply beyond the retreat. Other topics covered customer service, conflict management, and CPR/First Aid. We came out of these training sessions as a stronger unit. Lastly, our staff took much-needed time to relax by participating in a guided painting session. The next time you visit 6180 Old Central Avenue, come see our art!
Although we had fun, our efforts contributed to our goal: to support and empower people in need. We recognize our clients are our work. “Without the client, there is no us,” our moderator said. Our clients require assistance, we provide the services, and our donors make it all possible. To all of our clients and donors, we sincerely thank you.