Reading is a big part of my role: nonprofit trends, news stories, state and local laws and regulations, and recently, a whole lot about COVID-19. The entire nonprofit sector is somewhat nervous right now. Most nonprofits are preparing for a significant economic downturn and related loss of funding. Just like so many other community nonprofits, pregnancy centers have sought to comply with state public health orders while safely accommodating client needs.
But my favorite part of my job is you: interacting with pregnancy center team members from across North America gives me unique perspective. Your commitment to excellence is on full display during this pandemic. From coast to coast, you have been innovating and adapting out of deep care for your clients.
Here are three ways I've seen pregnancy centers being forces for good in their communities.
1. Practical Support -- Pregnancy centers have often been the only dedicated source of support for parents who want to continue their pregnancy and welcome their child but are struggling to find realistic ways to do so. Since the pandemic, these community-based centers have seen an increasing need for practical support. Centers and their community partners have stepped up in amazing -- sometimes miraculous -- ways. One executive director described how a clients' infant may need a specific expensive formula or another's baby is allergic to all but one brand of diaper. If they don't have the needed formula or diapers available, within a day or so a supporter orders it online and has it shipped directly -- sometimes without even being asked. Gloved and masked staff are serving clients through drive-up diaper distribution. They are working with local food banks to ensure families have access to meals. Many pregnant moms and new parents who were struggling before the pandemic hit have lost jobs and are in crisis now. Week after week, I hear new stories of how pregnancy centers are stepping up to meet their needs.
2. Phone Coaching, Virtual Consults & Classes -- Pregnancy scares continue, even as the pandemic is keeping most people home. For those who don't initially welcome a positive pregnancy test result, COVID-19 presents a new array of reasonable fears: coping with their own or family illnesses during pregnancy, job losses, trying to care for other children while working from home or taking online classes, food insecurity, or inability to pay for housing. Whatever a person's particular challenges, experienced pregnancy center staff are prepared to offer compassion, hope, and help though a simple phone call. Centers are also establishing new systems to offer current and new clients virtual consults through videoconferencing platforms. And many centers are also prepared to help clients cope with isolation and the demands of caring for young children 24/7 by taking their regular parenting classes and support groups online.
3. Team Enrichment -- Pregnancy center leaders are deeply in touch with how their staff and volunteer teams are doing. They are supporting each other through sickness, transitioning to work at home, crisis schooling their children, meeting client needs, and more. Most leaders are doing everything possible to keep their staff employed through these changes, although some are having to make difficult decisions. And, one priority near the top of every executive leader's list is giving their team member's opportunities to develop their talents and learn new skills.
During a recent webinar (available to Care Net affiliates), one panelist shared that their center has been physically closed since mid-March, as seven members of her small team caught the virus. Despite being sick herself, she has stayed in touch regularly with her team members and her team has reached out to encourage clients by phone. When the team isn't caring for clients virtually, they are preparing to better serve their community in the future by getting training through Care Net's Centers of Excellence University.
Another panelist said:
"This has been a great season to catch up on the things that we have always wanted to do, but there is still not enough time in the day to do so. Three of our team members completed Client Care Essentials through Centers of Excellence University. This has been a good time to review the sessions and look at what we can implement, and how we can be ready with training when we resume full operation. For potential volunteers, Caring Foundations has been an excellent introduction to the work of the Center.
"We are also using this time to look ahead and be ready for the marathon to come in the next quarters. All in all - we have made space for our team to DREAM together. "
If your center is interested in prioritizing pro-abundant life talent development during COVID-19 and beyond, we have resources for you.
Explore all the options or watch the video below to find out more about our training for client services leaders.
Pre-register for the next class -- beginning soon.
We know that the ways pregnancy centers are innovating in response to COVID-19 are extremely important. Research from The Best Christian Workplaces Institute explains one reason why :
“In general, there is a very strong correlation between innovation and employee engagement. On average, flourishing organizations scored much higher on innovation compared to organizations that are toxic.”
Through this very difficult season, your light has shown all the brighter. Most center leaders are innovating boldly and wisely. Their staff and volunteers are committed to their mission and highly engaged. I am personally blessed by each of the interactions I've had as many of you have called or emailed me during this pandemic -- or even commented on a blog post.
A wise person once observed:
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit. - Aristotle
Thank you for pursing excellence in everything you do. You are outstanding!
Can you add to this list? How is your center innovating to promote the well-being of team members and clients/patients? Share in the comments to honor an extraordinary center executive, team leader, or faithful volunteer.