Communicating Your Needs

Laura reading at coffee shop

These last few months working through increasingly strict COVID regulations at work have challenged me in ways I never imagined. I fell into the dangerous way of thinking, “How could things possibly get worse?” Volunteers had been reduced from 14 per day to 4 per day at Francis House and visiting residents felt distant in accordance with CDC guidelines. I felt content with how things were; with the variety of jobs I was given at work, though I knew from constant reminders from employees and other volunteers that I was “missing out” on certain events that had become virtual or certain experiences that only can come with being surrounded by a loving group of people. The pandemic takes its own toll, leaving those effected to process the grief of a loss that almost feels selfish to grieve. 

Though I was content, I was saddened at times to know I would not see Francis House at its most lively. However, now I look back to earlier in my year with FrancisCorps and realize how I had taken the current circumstances for granted. When COVID cases spiked in Onondaga County, we increased safety measures at work and have not allowed volunteers back since December. For a while, I was just glad to be able to continue serving here. It is such a privilege to come into work. Recently, though, I had become frustrated at my limited range of jobs available at work now without the aid of other volunteers to bolster our team serving the sick and dying. Where I had once been filled with joy at work and renewed with the zeal of service, I was now burnt out at the end of every day. As a perfectionist, I wanted to be able to shoulder the work and not need help. I was afraid to fail. 

The biggest revelation from this experience came when I finally built the courage to voice my concerns and to ask for help. The concern of my supervisor and support from FrancisCorps staff was wonderful. Though the change towards a more sustainable workload/schedule for me is gradual, I am so grateful to be validated in my struggle and to be assured that I was not expected to pour myself empty every day. My biggest challenge that has arisen from this insight is to continue to voice my struggles in any environment. It is a freeing concept, to know that needing help is not a weakness nor a failure. It is a comfort beyond all comforts to know that if I do ask for help, I will be heard and helped in any way possible. 

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