People – Passion – Professionalism: Staff experiences during the pandemic
Simone Berkowitz, Chief Analyst
What do you like best about your job?
I like helping those in need in the community, working with a compassionate and dedicated team, and applying my unique analytical skills to help with decision-making and communicating CSA’s value to the community.
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?
My job changed dramatically at the beginning of the pandemic. Normally, I work on data analysis and communications from the comfort of my desk. When the pandemic hit and we were short on volunteers because many were in a high-risk group, I began helping out at the food distributions in the parking lot. Since I speak Spanish, I was able to communicate with many clients coming in for the first time and help them sign up for services. Now that client needs have stabilized, I have been working from home, which is also new for me.
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?
The first moment I realized how much of an impact the pandemic was having on the community was when I opened the Rental Assistance email inbox one day after creating the account and found literally hundreds of messages from people seeking assistance. The phone had been ringing off the hook for days, but something about seeing all the emails sitting there really made me pause to catch my breath.
What keeps you going at work during times of great uncertainty … like COVID-19?
When I’m struggling with how to proceed in times of uncertainty, I think about what if the tables were turned? What if I were the person seeking food or rental assistance? I would want someone on the other end of the phone or computer to help me with patience and compassion. I also think about setting an example for my children about how those of us who have been fortunate in our lives and careers should treat others.
Anything else that you would like people reading this to know?
The community is truly lucky to have CSA as a resource for those in need. The demand for our services has never been as clear.