Team bonds responding to those in need

Sometimes a crisis can connect a team in a way no other experience could. I am one member of a small team of non-furloughed employees working in the Senior Concerns office and responding to calls.

The metaphor “band of brothers” keeps coming to mind.

This historical phrase refers to a diverse set of men who are thrown into battle, making them a family as close as any blood ties could make them. In our case, we are a band of sisters, but that is beside the point.

Let me start at the beginning as to why band of brothers (or sisters) was never a touchstone in my life.

I never belonged to a team such as sports, band or choir. My previous career was in sales, which, by its nature, is not a team sport. Generally, salespeople have personal attributes such as being good listeners, being competitive and possessing strong networking abilities—but teamwork is not at the top of that list.

As a sales team, we were geographically dispersed, and our success was not dependent on one another. As a matter of fact, salespeople are often pitted against one another in contests to see who can achieve the greatest results.

Fast-forward to today, in my role as a nonprofit leader. We all work together for a greater good. It is fulfilling and inspiring.

However, since the pandemic and, specifically, since being on the front line responding to calls, it has a different feel for me.

I marvel at this little band of six working at the center, reacting to changes and challenges that have come up in recent weeks. Previous roles have gone out the door as we work in unison to respond to the needs of callers.

Every call is a new story. So many accounts bring us to tears; others warm our hearts.

One day we were presented with a list of 100 seniors in Thousand Oaks who had called needing food. One hundred, in one day.

Another day I received a call from a skilled-nursing facility. One of its patients had passed, and his nurse, with nowhere else to turn, called us to see if we knew of a grief counselor. The gentleman’s wife and son were unable to be with the man as he died, and the nurse felt they needed professional help to deal with their emotions.

A local home health agency called us. A senior had just been discharged from the hospital and needed home-delivered meals.

After a few deliveries, the Meals on Wheels driver called to say the gentleman was not answering the door.

Later in the day, our director of nutrition drove by the gentleman’s home to see if the meal was taken in, only to find an ambulance and paramedics on scene.

She feared the worst but was relieved later to hear that the man had not died. He’d had a relapse and was back in the hospital.

A 70-year-old woman called asking if we could shop for groceries for her. Living with her 94-year-old mother, she said, every time she went out, she felt she was putting her mother’s life in danger.

In every case we moved quickly to provide help.

I would say these have been some of the hardest of moments I have ever experienced at Senior Concerns. However, I have never felt such true kinship with these women I work alongside every day, acting to solve these dilemmas.

I think this feeling of family is the nature of the human ties we are building and the fellowship among us. It is a feeling that brings goosebumps. All of us yearn to be part of something better, to make a difference in the world. Our little band of sisters is doing its part to make that happen.

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Andrea GallagherAndrea Gallagher

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