Live with Purpose - January 29, 2021
By Valerie Burke
At Goodwin House, we start every meeting by sharing “mission moments” with colleagues. Before we discuss anything else, we spend time going around the room, talking about experiences that exemplify our mission. Often, the purpose of any organization, when boiled down to one simple statement, can seem mostly aspirational. Not so at Goodwin House.
We always have many mission moments to share. 2020 gave us an overabundance of them. That’s because our staff are simply amazing.
The majority of the workforce at Goodwin House work the front lines – nursing, dining services, facilities, environmental services. They come to work every day with a sense of purpose that I’ve never experienced before.
Nearly one in three staff members at Goodwin House hold more than one job in order to support their families and, in some cases, advance their careers. They work hard to keep their families housed, fed and happy. They work hard to pay for tuition and earn college degrees.
These staff members made the difficult choice to give up their additional jobs in order to keep working for Goodwin House. They continued to work for us, knowing that they were facing the potential risk of getting sick. They made incredible sacrifices. That is how dedicated they are to the care and services they provide residents, members and patients.
We have endured the pandemic for nearly a year now. Very early on, it was obvious the impact it was going to have on us at Goodwin House, both residents and staff alike. Within the first few weeks, residents had started reaching out to me, asking what they could do to help. They understood many staff members would be facing financial setbacks. They knew that by supporting the Goodwin House Foundation, they could make a difference.
Immediately, with support from resident volunteers and human resources, the Foundation found new ways to help, new ways to add to our staff support. We offered need-based grants to staff experiencing a job loss or reduced income in their family due to COVID. We launched a staff store that provided basic staples such as canned goods, rice, pasta, peanut butter and toilet paper, when they were in short supply.
We received effusive expressions of gratitude, including generous gifts. From March to December, we raised nearly $320,000 solely for the purpose of supporting staff.
As the holidays approached, staff were continuing to face hardships. The months-long loss of income was having a cumulative effect on some. Others were facing new challenges as they tried to make ends meet.
At the same time, our resident volunteers were more committed than ever to doing what they could to help see staff through these difficulties. Together, we came up with the idea to host our first annual Giving Day.
If you’ve contributed to charitable causes in the past decade, you’re probably aware of “Giving Tuesday”, a day when everyone is encouraged to donate to their favorite non-profits. This annual effort is recognized on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, immediately following Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Rather than launch such a big effort in the midst of the holidays, we chose to host our annual day of giving on February 14. It seemed a fitting day for the Goodwin House Foundation. Our staff lead with their hearts every day, and our donors give from their hearts to show their gratitude for them. And so, we chose America’s heartiest of days to cast a spotlight on all this love that we share.
Just before the pandemic changed everything, the Goodwin House Foundation changed our mission statement, which leads with “through the power of philanthropy, we seek and celebrate generosity to carry out the mission of Goodwin House…”
Over the past year, the generosity we have discovered and celebrated has been nothing short of amazing. And we hope we can build on this so that we might continue to support staff, not just through the rest of the pandemic, but well into the future.
Every one of us can relate to the profound impact COVID-19 has had on our lives. You’ve lived it. I’ve lived it. We’ve all lived it—separated, but together… distanced, but connected. We hope you might consider joining our community of generosity. As our President & CEO Rob Liebreich has said many times over the past year, we are stronger, together.
Valerie Burke serves as chief philanthropy officer for Goodwin House. She leads the overall fundraising efforts of the Goodwin House Foundation, a philanthropic organization charged with providing financial aid and support to Goodwin House residents, employees and the greater community. Valerie works to encourage generosity and foster partnerships to advance the mission of Goodwin House. She believes that there is profound joy in the act of giving; it is how we share our values, our beliefs and our hopes for the world.