One year of COVID-19: Reflections from YWCA Toronto staff
YWCA Toronto staff reflect back on the year of COVID and the lessons they’ve learned.
This is part 1 of a 2 part series. Read part 2 here.
One year ago this month, everything changed – and inevitably so did we. In tribute to a year that tested our strength, resilience, connection and wellbeing, here are the lessons YWCA Toronto staff have learned through a year of living and working in a pandemic.
Teshia Allen, Manager of Housing and Special Projects:
This year challenged me emotionally and led me to ask myself ‘How can I contribute to making the spaces I’m in safer and more inclusive?’ I’m always centering myself in any biases I hold and making sure I’m always holding myself accountable, especially with the population we work with who are marginalized and vulnerable.
Sarah Pak, IT:
The biggest lesson I’ve learned is how resilient we are. Even when met with a situation that seemed impossible, we find a way to keep moving forward.
Petya Nacheva, Manager, YWCA Employment Centre:
I learned just how flexible and resilient our program and staff could be, given how fast-moving and significant the changes turned out to be. Despite all of these changes, we still met our targets, and I’m proud of that.
Sangita Acharya, Business Administrator, YWCA Davenport Shelter:
I feel grateful that I was able to work from home during these challenging times and technology has made my work life easy. That said, I feel isolated from my team. I miss the personal interactions with my wonderful colleagues and miss the stimulation of being in the office environment. Overall, this situation has taught me to live in the present, take one day at a time and prioritize relationships with family and friends. It is amazing to see how the community has come together to support each other during this pandemic.
Sarah Blea, Cook/Kitchen Administrator, Early Learning Centre:
Most of all I have learned patience and perseverance. Waking up every day has been hard but I got up, showed up, even dressed up. Many days I thought about giving up and just sleeping the days away, but of course I couldn’t do that. I have had to do a lot of deep thinking on how others need to be treated well, with compassion and approached gently because everything is just more amplified.
Jasmine Rosario, Manager Skills Development Centre, Moving on to Success, Education & Training Institute:
It was a year for shifting focus, improvising and compromising a lot, both personally and professionally. The world felt heavy with the overwhelming amount of endless news headlines of tragic stories and “doomscrolling” visuals on socials. It has been a time for questioning values and patriarchal norms, and unleashing the silence of those oppressed under a system that has failed so many. Despite this, I have learnt that humans are fragile yet fiercely resilient. When the going gets tough, we can still persevere and work together for change.
Lilliam Alvarez, Housing Administration Coordinator, Woodlawn:
I have been reminded to not take anything for granted.
I have been able to enjoy the simplest activities with my family more than I normally would: watching a movie, playing dominoes, bonding over a meal.
I now have a deeper perspective on life and feel more focused.
I have learned to be flexible and adapt and keep going regardless of the circumstance.
These have been the biggest lessons I’ve learned.
Maureen Burbick, CNC Lead Educator, English Language Skills and Development:
I’ve learned that once I surrounded myself with a strong network of family and friends, I could focus more on the positives. When I put self-care first, my life became more full, and I became more passionate about the future and the world around me.
Images by Adam Niescioruk and Glen Carrie on Unsplash