I started my career as a front line child care worker in a residential treatment facility for abused and neglected children. It was a wonderful job. I lived full time with the children, was paid $400 per month and only got a vacation when I took some of the children with me because we were so short staffed. I was young and the 18-20 hour work days did not bother me. I remember thinking what it would be like to have time off or attend a training to become better at my job. No time for that, we were simply too busy taking care of the children.
I often think about the talented, hard-working, dedicated folks who work for the agencies we fund. Many of you have worked your entire careers as nonprofit workers in similar conditions. You are heroes in my eyes.
Although what you do is important, it is equally important to take time every now and then and get away from your work to refresh your mind and spirit. Dedicated folks like you can develop compassion fatigue and burnout and either quit or do your job without feeling or passion. Everyone loses when this happens.
Front line workers, supervisors and management should be nurtured, appreciated and supported. If we don’t take the time to do this, these dedicated care providers will become physical and mental health clients rather than providers.