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Caring for Caregivers

It is hard to believe 2020 is almost over. In some ways, it seems like just yesterday that we were making decisions about closing our offices, postponing meetings, and figuring out what we had to do to pivot as an organization to best support our staff and families given the changing world.

We quickly saw that this pivot was not going to be for a few weeks or even a few months. We are in this for the long-haul, and our world has fundamentally shifted into a new reality. We can no longer pretend that the development of a vaccine or effective treatment will allow us to just flip a switch and return back to “normal.” All of our lives and realities have fundamentally shifted and that requires a fundamental shift in how we operate as an organization and as a staff.

One of those fundamental shifts is the recognition of the importance of caregiving and caregivers in our world. Many of our residents are professional caregivers, home health aids, daycare workers, and certified nursing assistants. Our staff works as caregivers for family, providing supportive assistance and services. Both our residents and staff care for their own children, family members, and neighbors. Without the traditional support structures, like school systems or healthcare facilities, we are recognizing that the title of caregiver belongs to all of us.

Our partners at The Holding Co just released their Care 100 list, highlighting those working to re-imagine and re-humanize our care system. I am honored that Springboard’s work and The Magnolia Mother’s Trust are recognized on this list, highlighting the important role cash can play in caregiving. But what I particularly love about this list is the wide variety of leaders and sectors that are represented. It reminds us that we need a bigger definition of caregiving that goes beyond the traditional categories. And it reminds us that not only are we all caregivers, but we are also all the recipients of care, as well.

As an organization, we are doing our best to find ways to support our families in both of these roles. Many of our Magnolia Mother’s Trust recipients have been participating in a new Leaders in Community Fellowship program, an opportunity for them to learn leadership development and community building skills. Over the past few months, they have built relationships and  developed strategies for self and community care. But they are also being equipped with these skills so that they can share them with other members in their community, including new Magnolia Mother’s Trust recipients, in the future, and step into the caregiver role themselves.

This is just one small way that our thinking and responses have shifted in recognition of our new reality. While there is so much that has been hard in the past 7 months, I am grateful to have had the space and time to think about the different roles we play and what it means to be a healthy and responsive caregiving organization. It is my hope that each of us will spend more time recognizing our own roles as caregivers and giving thanks to those from whom we receive care.

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