Vivian Largusa, EB Day Program Manager
2020 was a year filled with different challenges and blessings. Working at FCSN for almost a decade, I find every year brings new learning experiences and memories for the books. When COVID 19 started to take root in early 2020, I was personally blissfully unaware of the challenges that FCSN was facing at the program.
As a new mother, I was instead facing different challenges at home: being awake at odd hours, calming a newborn baby, and worried about baby catching a cold (not COVID). It was definitely a big change to return to work at FCSN after maternity leave. I was expecting to adjust to spending time apart from my baby, adjusting to returning physically at work and managing my own level of fatigue as all new mothers do. The FCSN I returned to was vastly different than the one I had left before my baby was born.
Like for everyone else, implementation of Sheltering-in-Place changed much of my normal day to day life. Instead of returning to work as I knew it, I instead jumped into a brand new work environment. Our day program team had pivoted to provide virtual classes and alternative services to our clients. As I joined them, I realized how much change was occurring and the impact of these changes for our clients. Although I saw many familiar faces on Zoom classes, I also noticed that there were plenty of faces that were not present. In the months since we started Shelter-in-Place, our team has worked tirelessly, making changes to our virtual programming, modifying our class options, and continuously adjusting to fit the needs of our clients and staff.
As the months continued, and we were still unable to re-enter our normal programming, I was heartened to see that the efforts of our staff resulted in an increase of clients attending our program. FCSN made efforts in lending out iPads to clients who did not have the technical capabilities of joining our virtual classes and arranging hotspots to improve the quality of streaming materials our staff share with our clients. We began to see familiar faces many that we had not been able to greet in months. As we continued, we saw more and more of our clients join our classes. It continues to be rewarding for our staff to know that their effort and care impacts the lives of our FCSN family.
I am blessed to work with such a strong team that puts the needs of our clients at the forefront of everything they do. I was worried about the emotional, mental and even physical impact sheltering-in-place may have on our clients. But now, I am relieved to see that our clients are resilient. They continue to teach us how to stay positive, how to be flexible and how to care for each other in these trying times. In many ways, they continue to educate us when we are not expecting it. I know that when we return to our before-COVID-19 routines, ours will be a stronger, tighter-knit family than before.