Over the past few months, I’ve had many opportunities to meet some really good people who work very hard doing really great work. Who are these people? They are the men and women across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that provide shelter, support, care, resources and hope to the thousands of families experiencing homelessness. These men and women, particularly frontline staff, spend their days and evenings listening to horrific stories from families who are traumatized by homelessness and all the other risk factors that come with the territory; they are resolving conflicts; negotiating with DTA, DHCD, landlords and other community resources; partnering with families to help them identify needs and achieve personal goals. They do all this without stopping for a break, lunch or even a trip to the bathroom!
Operating in this mode day after day has a very devastating impact on caregivers. Not to mention the utter frustration you feel when you are working as hard as you can and there are not enough housing, funding, services and resources to meet the needs of your growing caseloads. Let us not forget changing state policies and regulations that you are forced to enforce even though deep down inside, you know that they’re either ineffective or insufficient. How do you cope when it seems that all the chips are against you? Are you spending all of your time taking care of the needs of other, while neglecting our own needs? Providers, when was the last time you actually sat down and enjoyed your lunch or break without being interrupted? How many of you think about your clients and their children when you’re off the clock? When caregivers neglect their own needs, the effects can be both physically and mentally health weakening. Ask yourself, do I have difficulty managing my emotions? Do I dread going to work on Mondays because, who knows what I’m coming into? Do I skip lunch and breaks, including bathroom breaks because “if I take a break the work won’t get done”? Do I have problems managing the boundaries between myself and others (e.g., taking on too much responsibility, having difficulty leaving work at the end of the day, trying to step in and control other’s lives)? Do you want to get back to doing the great work that you love…supporting families experiencing homelessness to re-build and move forward?
If you answered “yes” to some or all of these questions, it sounds like it time to start building you personal first aid kit. It’s time for some Self Care and Resilience Training. Homes for Families is offering a Self-Care and Resiliency Training to the Boston congregate direct care shelter staff on Wednesday October 10, 2012. Direct care staff is encouraged to attend the three and a half hour training. Seats are limited so pre-registration is required. Programs outside of the Metro-Boston area who want to learn more about this or other provider training offered by Homes for Families should contact Michelle Botus at firstname.lastname@example.org.