The COVID-19 pandemic has changed just about every facet of our lives from how we work to where we can go and even how we celebrate holidays. Social distancing is new terminology that we are unlikely to ever forget and wearing facemasks in public has become commonplace now. Something that hasn’t changed however is the remarkable dedication of people who have chosen careers that help others even in the darkest times. Each day we see stories of overwhelmed doctors and nurses who work grueling hours under brutal conditions and EMTs who bravely assist people who are both sick and terrified. Let us also remember an extraordinary group of professionals doing heroic things on behalf of others around the clock: those working in group homes.
Under normal circumstances, working in a group home presents many challenges, often without warning. Coupling those challenges now with a virus that has stricken tens of thousands of people in Massachusetts creates a situation unlike any we have seen before. Still, these exceptional people keep showing up every day to care for and help the individuals who need them now more than ever. The folks who live in Venture group homes have seen their lives totally disrupted by COVID-19 and have essentially been isolated for more than 30 days now in an effort to protect them as much as possible. That is more than a month of not being able to go to day programs, work, community activities, or other social gatherings with friends. Most importantly, the people we support cannot even visit in person with their families right now. The job of a direct support professional is hard enough without a national health crisis. Now, the staff are also asked to fill the void left by the pandemic while somehow letting the people in our homes know they are safe. That is asking an awful lot of people who have their own lives and families and yet it is a challenge our employees have taken on with the amazing skill, compassion, and professionalism they have always shown. It is genuinely inspiring.
Every crisis brings an element of fear and a public health emergency increases that fear exponentially. People working in essential jobs have always found ways to rise above that fear and help those in need. We remember first responders in blizzards and hurricanes and we remember firefighters who race into buildings from which others are fleeing. We also remember medical professionals volunteering to go to war ravaged countries to treat strangers. It would be more than sad if people don’t remember what our direct support professionals are doing around the clock during this crisis; it would be shameful. Let’s all make it a point to recognize them and thank them whenever we get the chance.
~ Mike Hyland, President and CEO