Following my father’s death, our local Veteran’s Administration representative visited with my 64-year-old mother. She was entitled to benefits as the widow of a veteran. After talking about a few of these, the man said, “Of course, as a widow, you also qualify for tuition support for college. But I am sure at your age, you aren’t interested in this.” To which my mother replied, “Oh, yes, I am.”
The dictionary defines “resilience” as the capacity to recover, to bounce back, to adapt well in the face of adversity, trauma, or distress. Like my newly widowed mother, United Church Homes has undergone a season of stress and adaptation with the advent of this year’s pandemic.
Our pathway to resilience was forged through several initiatives. First and foremost, our main concern was to protect our residents and staff from the COVID-19 virus. We focused on securing our buildings, starting rigorous hygiene and nursing protocols and purchasing as much personal protective equipment we could, in whatever quantities we could find, due to shortages around the world.
Then we focused on supporting front-line staff. We provided “Warrior Pay,” bonus money added to their hourly rates to show our appreciation for putting themselves at risk to care for residents. We supplied them with extra treats, T-shirts and training so they would grow more confident, and less afraid, when the virus would make someone ill.
Finally, we highlighted our purpose, our mission, our ultimate reason for being the organization we are. Our leaders met daily, sharing concerns, coordinating resources and supporting each other. We began offering weekly moments to uplift particular examples of staff going above and beyond the call of duty in various areas. And we sat together in prayer. That should be most obvious in a faith-inspired organization like UCH. However, under the circumstances, sharing in prayer became a way to knit us closer together in our calling to serve those in our care.
In these ways, and numerous others, UCH has been able to meet the demands of this pandemic and prove our resilience as an organization. Today, our infection control procedures have limited COVID-19 outbreaks, safeguarded our residents and staff and maintained a high level of dedication and morale among team members.
My mother had always dreamed of going to college after nursing school. But she had never pursued her dream. At that moment, though, suffering a huge traumatic loss, my mother’s goal came back to her. Her newly revived dream became one of the ways she coped with her grief and found new meaning and purpose. For two years, she took general classes, completing two years of credits. While she didn’t quite finish her degree, she accomplished much more. My mother connected with a deeper purpose to help her bounce back after my father’s death.
We have had a similar experience with our pandemic adaptations this year. We went back to our sense of shared purpose in our mission as well as our faith to strengthen our resilience. This is the work that you have been supporting through your gifts, especially this year. Your partnership with us in supporting our residents is more crucial than ever. Thank you for standing by us in these challenging times. And for inspiring and supporting our resilience during the pandemic. We are eternally grateful.
Read more about these stories of resilience and generosity in United Church Homes’ most recent Abundant Impact Newsletter.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth V. Daniel
President and CEO