Staff Stories - June 24, 2021
By Kathie Miller
2020 is a year for the history books. I think we can all agree on that. Many of us might even consider that an understatement. We have yet to fully unpack this recent year that was. We have yet to find the words to articulate fully what we all endured together while being asked to stay apart—such a universal experience that was experienced individually.
Last year was historic for many reasons, not just because of COVID-19.
At Goodwin House, we made some history of our own! We received the 2021 Stewardship Award from LeadingAge Virginia, and we were recognized by the Washington Post as a 2021 Top Workplace in the D.C. Area—an honor we have now achieved for three years in a row! And this year, we were No. 6 in the category of “large” organizations, which was our highest ranking in the three years that we have participated in the Top Workplace survey.
As we celebrate these two honors that we received in the past two weeks, we take a look at what made this possible.
From the very start of the pandemic, Goodwin House took the position that we are all stronger together. We applied this approach throughout year, in ways big and small.
Goodwin House Corporate Director of Supply Chain Lisa Wallace organized a group purchase of critical PPE at the start of the pandemic in March, 2020. Thanks to her efforts, more than 50 organizations benefitted from an opportunity to acquire much needed surgical masks when supplies were difficult to acquire.
Our sales teams took their event planning skills and applied them to virtual experiences for those considering their options with Goodwin House. We recruited experts in their fields to cover topics ranging from the financial impact of the pandemic to regular updates on how to stay safe and healthy. In just nine months, nearly 20 webinars were offered.
Leslie LaPlace and Carson Fralin, our fitness staff at Goodwin House Alexandria, transitioned to offering virtual exercise classes and instruction. Since October of 2020, they have very impressively produced more than 200 videos so that residents, Goodwin House at Home members and anyone seeking to keep fit and healthy could engage in exercise from the safety of their own homes.
Residents organized themselves to show their support for staff. At GHBC, they gathered daily to thank staff and cheer them on during shift change. At both communities, residents donated to the Goodwin House Foundation and enabled this part of our organization to both provide critical support in the form of financial grants and continued programs such as tuition assistance and citizenship fees.
As Goodwin House leadership heard from friends and colleagues at other organizations—not just those in senior living and healthcare, but those of all types—that they were grappling with similar issues related to keeping staff and others safe through the pandemic, we decided to share whatever we could to help others. By mid-September, we made our COVID-19 Playbook available free for download, and more than 300 organizations throughout the United States have accessed this guide.
Even as we found ourselves in the grips of the pandemic, we came together in meaningful ways throughout the year.
We continued to advocate for causes that are important to us. In June, residents and staff gathered to hold their own Black Lives Matter event and honor George Floyd. In October, we gathered again to hold our own Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Residents who are part of the “Silver Panthers” continued to engage in other advocacy activities and support one another through the election season with the new ways of voting it presented to us.
We also celebrated milestones and had a little fun along the way. Our most tenured staff member reached her 50th anniversary with Goodwin House, and we joined Audrey Keith to commemorate the moment. Nursing staff tapped their creative sides to recognize Handwashing Day and Nurses Week. And we all shared in a palpable excitement with the arrival of the first dose of vaccines just before the New Year.
Even as we seek to find ways to describe what we have been through, one word seems to rise above all others—gratitude! We are grateful to have been able to help others emerge from the pandemic. We are grateful to have endured. We are grateful to our families and friends for their support. We are grateful to the incredible strangers who served on the front lines. We are grateful to the love, friendship and memories we shared with those we lost along the way.
And at Goodwin House, we are grateful to our entire Goodwin House Family—staff, residents, members, clients, partner organizations, local churches… and the list goes on. Without you, we wouldn’t be where we are today. You made this past year possible. You made it survivable. And you made us rise to levels of excellence we never imagined, levels that earned us these incredible recognitions of the LeadingAge Virginia Stewardship Award and the 2021 Washington Post Top Workplace ranking. Thanks for all you did to help see us through!
As Corporate Director of Marketing & Communications, Kathie Miller provides strategic guidance and tactical support for all areas of Goodwin House. She writes, edits and manages The Good Life blog and newsletter. Kathie joined GHI in 2014 after nearly 15 years at NPR, where she honed her skills in brand and reputation management, content marketing and internal communications. Originally from Pennsylvania, Kathie has slowly come to realize she’s lived in Arlington for more than half her life and should call herself a Virginian. She enjoys the outdoors and brings her rescue dog, Remi, to work every day.