Stories from the Front Lines
YWCA Columbus essential workers share their thoughts during this unprecedented time.
This pandemic has made me realize that the role I play as an after-school teacher is really important. I am blessed to know that I can still provide the kids we serve with learning experiences that will last a lifetime through all that is going on. It was hard in the beginning to know that I am putting my life at risk every day that I leave my house for work, but now I recognize it is an honor and privilege to serve the most vulnerable during this time! Glory to God!
Donald Fullum, Lead Teacher, Safe & Sound Childcare
Right now I am grateful to have employment. My significant other is out of work until this pandemic is over, and the bills must still be paid. Front line staff always earn less than management. I have co-workers with health issues who are physically unable to come to work and are worried about maintaining their homes. Even though I pray to God that I will not become infected or infect my loved ones when I return home and I follow the safety guidelines to the best of my abilities, I am still worried. I am grateful to those who have donated masks to keep us safe. As an essential worker in the family homeless shelter, not only are we dealing with changes in policy and procedures, we have to be here to assist the families during a universal crisis on top of their homeless crisis. We make the best of a difficult situation. And we do it every day.
Vuanita Hill, Family Support Shift Supervisor
I fear the unknown, but I feel blessed for numerous reasons. I have two essential jobs that are helping the community in some way, shape and form. I am glad I am working. I think if I had to sit at home for a long period of time, I would run out of things to clean, organize and eventually get on my families nerves. I like being able to help the residents through this trying time, by making them laugh, answering questions to the best of my ability and just being there. Some people have no one but us, and that in itself is a scary thought. So, I can imagine how I would feel not having anyone but the people that I see every day.
Angela Walls, Family Support Specialist & Receptionist
Because I am an essential employee, I am unable to visit my mom due to her lung condition. Instead, I am sending money home more often to ensure her fridge is filled. I must rely on others close by to ensure my mom is okay so I don’t worry. Before this pandemic, I never thought of my work as essential to the point of placing my own health and life in jeopardy. I can identify with my children and families’ fear of vulnerability. However, I must continue with a brave face while protecting the children we serve.
Paula Neal, Program Administrator, Safe & Sound Childcare
I constantly worry about the “what ifs.’ What if I catch the virus and give it to my loved ones? My mother has an underlying health condition. What if my significant other doesn’t get called back to work? Right now, I’m the only one bringing income into our household and I can’t afford everything by myself. What if my two adult daughters, who are also essential workers, catch the virus? They both have underlying conditions and one is pregnant. What if things don’t get better? Every day I feel stressed, tired and emotionally drained! At the end of the day I’m scared because I don’t know what the future holds for me and my loved ones! Although I’m scared, I find strength in knowing that there are other essential workers, like myself, on the front lines fighting today for a better tomorrow.
Stacy McLain, Asst Program Admin, Safe & Sound childcare
Working as an essential employee is very difficult during this time. The residents I serve at YWCA Columbus are not able to receive their normal in-person interactions with their case workers, which makes them feel isolated. My staff are scared to come to work, and when I return home, I’m afraid to be physically close to my daughter. These are all new feelings that I’ve had to learn how to navigate. I try to listen and be understanding of my staff’s needs and my client’s needs. This fear makes me very sad and nervous, both for my clients and for my family.
Allyson Pitts, BSW LSW, Director of Clinical Services
I try to put my best foot forward. I am 19, and this is my first job. I live and take care of my 79 year old mom. I can’t travel on the weekend because bus routes are limited. We have to wear masks on the bus, and I can’t visit loved ones.
Armani Mills, Custodial Technician
This is my first job out of college, and I’ve already faced challenges I never thought was possible. I was adjusting to working a full-time schedule, but now we are living in a pandemic and it’s extremely challenging to keep up with the constantly changing protocols. I know it’s important to be flexible and adapt to new practices as they protect our residents and prevent the spread of Covid-19, but nevertheless it can become tiring. It's easy to feel insecure and overwhelmed, but I am learning how to reach out to my coworkers for support as well as support them. I feel proud to be an essential worker, and I remain committed to serving the women at YWCA Columbus.
Madeline Frechette, BSW, Service Coordinator
I feel good, serving people who need the help. We are on the front line and we have to make sure we are safe and the people we serve are safe.
Stacey Hough, Family Support Specialist
I am challenged by my emotions. As a mother of two, a daughter, a sister, a human, I fear the unknown. This is not the first time, in my line of work, that I’ve felt a sense of fear and uncertainty. I am conflicted by the love I have for my family, and my love for humanity! I have always been on the frontline, and I would not have it any other way. My son is immunocompromised. When I leave my home, I am leaving him. I find this situation ironic, as much as I hate to leave; I am more afraid to go home. My greatest fear is to bring this silent killer anywhere. Life is fragile, finding the balance between crisis and calm are almost impossible. When you find that moment, that quite moment of solitude, make the most of it. You know tomorrow is another day, another fight. When you have lives depending on you for guidance, comfort, and compassion, you show up! I do not just show up for the sake of a check; this could not possibly be the reason you risk your life every day. You show to make a difference. Be a game changer!
Sonya Todd, Director, Family Center
Working at YWCA Columbus has given me greater sense of empathy. I have realized how vital my position is with the community and beyond. Teamwork is my greatest outtake from being here. Right now, I feel blessed to be able to render myself in the service of others within our community and even in the neighborhood. It gives me a feeling of self-worth to know that I can play a part in helping someone that is faced with so many challenges. I appreciate my job.
Fred Mills, Safety & Security Assistant
There have been challenges with putting protocols in place because of how new this virus is to everyone including the experts. Also, it is challenging knowing that people are scared and sometimes the best words of encourage does not ease their anxiety. The experience of being an essential worker is something that makes me feel a lot of pride. I feel that it was my calling to help serve the community no matter what the circumstances are.
Roy McClelland, Director of Programs, Women's Residency
As a parent to a teenage daughter, I was scared in the beginning because I was not sure how the virus would affect my household. Honestly, I feel blessed that I am able to be here to serve the women within our Women’s Residency Program. Despite what’s going on, I know I bring a smile to most of the women I come into contact with and they put smiles on my face as well. I feel honored to being an essential worker because there aren’t many people who can and will do the job for the love of people they serve, and I am grateful to be one of those people!
Whitney Garrett, Third Shift Engagement Specialist
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