change lives.

Helping frontline workers at community non-profits

An essential focus of the United Way is ensuring that the non-profit organizations so vital to our communities are strong and robust. Maintaining that vigor has been especially important during the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has not only significantly increased the workload of non-profit leaders, managers and frontline workers but led to an increase in mental health issues.

To address this need, the United Way has partnered with Family Plus Life Solutions to provide a four-part workshop series geared to teaching and supporting workers at local non-profit organizations.

The workshops, funded by the United Way, are designed to help reduce burnout,

compassion fatigue and vicarious trauma. The aim is to give workers guidance so that they have the emotional, physical and professional stamina to continue to do their demanding work for the community. So far, seven workshops have been held and more are planned for the new year.

Cathy Halstead, community school co-ordinator for Milltown Elementary School, tells us the information provided to her during the workshop has been an enormous help.

“Self-care is not a suggestion, it is a requirement,” Cathy says. “I am aware that people in the helping profession often ‘torture’ themselves with dehydration, sleep deprivation, malnutrition and self-isolation. I am making a conscious effort to drink water, get to bed early, eat nutritious meals and make time for friends and family.”

The first workshop dealt with the personal mental health of the frontline workers themselves, enlightening them on the importance of taking care of one’s self before taking on the issues of other people. The old cliché, “you can’t give what you don’t have” was the essence of this workshop.

Other workshops provided awareness and insights into the issues that surface in the helping professions when the complexities of community, global and personal crisis intersect, information on community resources, and a check-in to share information and what works best.