In March of 2021, Willis Dady hosted a day-long Staff Retreat at the Palmer House Stable. As part of our Mental Health and Wellness focus, we have received a grant from International Paper to provide days of rest and relationship building with our Willis Dady team. This grant allows Willis Dady to cover staff wages, provide food, and bring in amazing coaches to lead our staff retreats. Jackie, one of our Homeless Prevention Case Managers wrote about our first staff retreat and the impact it had on her below.
For the first time since the COVID-19 Pandemic had spread our meetings out over video chat, staff trickled into the same room at an event venue that was an old rustic brick building, filled with round tables and anticipation for what the day would bring. Greetings could be heard abound as everyone immediately started relishing the opportunity to chat with one another. Our host, Shannon from Endless Ocean Coaching, was emptying her bags with many goodies to accompany her lessons. Soon the day began, and it was over all too fast, but let’s focus on what happened in between.
After Shannon led us through the room with a fun introduction to one another, she gave us some important concepts to remember compassion when working with clients and our own colleagues. Values was our first topic. Every person we help carries with them a motivation for how and why they do things, based upon their values. We were asked to consider our own values, and ways in which it could potentially affect us when our values were violated or unrecognized. The importance of bringing this to our jobs was immeasurable. It’s a fast way to step into a mindset which can lead to better understanding of who we are trying to help.
After we felt the tingle of new thoughts toward ways we could better relate to clients, we learned about Love Languages. While Love Languages is now a fairly widely known strategy for better communication, the majority of the room shared the same fresh realization that they could be applied while doing our jobs! We worked through ideas for how to appreciate one another, as colleagues. The teamwork that comes from building great communication is vital to helping clients in a well-rounded way. Teamwork can be the difference that leads a client from receiving one part of what they need, to everything they need to succeed!
With the rainy day dabbling at the windows and the lunch hour sneaking up, the room was growing a bit distracted; so, Shannon decided it was time for some positivity and action. Each person crumpled up a piece of paper with an uplifting message written on it, and we all tossed them around like kids having a snowball fight. We read our messages out loud, and we were instructed to take them to heart. Many of those words were much needed, as our work can get tedious, tiresome and sometimes makes us wonder if what we do ever truly matters. A little encouragement can go a long way, and it did.
After a lunch break full of delicious food and more appreciated opportunities to get to know our co-workers, we moved into some heavy stuff. We got to practice working through tough situations with each other. One of the most important things we took away from that was how to reach an understanding that we all have the same end goal, but maybe we don’t encounter the same stressors that get us all there. It is vital that we remember our common intentions and consider that there is always a reason we may be asking one another to do something.
Of course, what would a day filled with proverbial new tools in our tool boxes be without a collage poster? Something to remember everything we gained from the day went home, or back to the office with us.
Each staff present held their own duties and responsibilities, their own challenges and concerns. But our host did a great job offering universal ways to work toward our goals and through our difficulties. Words that could be heard as we left? “That was actually a lot of helpful stuff. I hope next time we will do it outside.”
Thank you, International Paper! Your funding of this amazing day led our staff to learn an incredible amount about how our values and beliefs about our work, but also how they impact our work with each other and ultimately our clients.
We would also like to thank your gracious hosts, the Palmer House Stable. Thank you for hosting us for free at your venue and helping the transitions of the day go so smoothly. We are so grateful for your support of Willis Dady Homeless Services!
Finally, make sure to check out International Paper for all your recycling, paper, and packaging needs https://www.internationalpaper.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/InternationalPaper