People – Passion – Professionalism: Staff experiences during the pandemic
Janice Bonello, Homeless Services Program Director
What do you like best about your job?
The staff, the flexibility, the opportunity to grow and learn in a safe environment.
What was it like working at CSA this past year during the pandemic? How did your job change? How did you flex, pivot and stretch to meet increasing client and/or agency need?
Everything was turned inside out. Since I had broken my leg in February 2020, coming into the office was almost impossible since I couldn’t get the physical help I needed from other people due to social distancing.
That being said, working from home made me feel like I was not doing my fair share to support clients and my coworkers. I was watching other CSA staff put in long shifts while I was stuck at home, not able to move. I was asked to focus on rental cases which were coming in like crazy, each staff member handling up to 80 cases at one time and trying to support people who were terrified about what would happen to their work, to their families and to their future.
When I was able to start walking again, I returned to the office and started helping out and doing whatever needed to be done to ensure that the agency was running smoothly and meeting client needs. I can honestly say that since returning to the office in April 2020, the onsite staff have been working so hard and have not lessened their pace to support clients and keep the workplace safe and clean to minimize disease transmission.
Was there a seminal moment/incident during this past year when you realized just how much the pandemic is/was impacting your clients and/or workload?
When we resumed in-person case management in the parking lot with our unhoused clients, that is when it really hit me how difficult the situation had been for all of us. Being able to sit down in person with someone and be right next to them for a whole appointment always gives me so much hope for their future.
What keeps you going at work during times of great uncertainty … like COVID-19?
The super supportive staff at CSA. They continue to be there for each other, helping with things that are not part of their responsibilities, but they are willing to do so because that’s the type of person who works at CSA.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
CSA has not stopped working on improving client services and quality throughout this health crisis. We are all working so hard to make sure that the community is supported while also trying to take care of ourselves during an uncertain and scary time. For me, patience and kindness toward myself and others has been key.