ICCS staff care. They care for people in crisis. It is their job, and so, sometimes it can be taken for granted. But not by the residents of Newcastle Place.
One morning last week Sandra, the program manager, had a visit from a resident. She had recently moved in and was making connections with others in the program. As she talked with people she heard the same message, “The staff here are the real deal, they work hard, and really care.” she could see it was true.
“The residents wanted to do something to express their appreciation for all of the hard work that staff have been doing.” she said.
Sandra listened carefully to the plan being described, knowing she was going to have to say yes or no to the request.
“They would like to give staff a gift.”
“Everyone will chip in some money,” she said. She explained that residents wanted to thank staff for keeping them safe during Covid and for the other things such as the gift bags they assembled with donations, and the care and compassion they showed each day.
Sandra told her that she would encourage everyone to keep their money and that just being able to work with them was all the reward needed.
The resident wouldn’t have that. “No way, we need to thank you!”she said.
With Sandra’s permission, the residents pooled their money, bought a Tim Horton’s gift card, and presented it to Sandra to purchase coffee for all the staff.
Sandra told me, “I thanked her and told her that my heart was truly touched and that she and the others taught me so many things each day. I was kind of teary. It was a very touching moment. She was beaming and so pleased to be able to give back.”
Sandra also commented that she has spent many years working in Supportive Housing. She understands first hand how difficult it is for people who have lost everything, who are traumatized, who are ostracized, struggling with injuries and declining mental health, to take the initiative and express their gratitude. They may feel it, but going that extra step, and doing it as a group, that is a sign of something extraordinary.
Sandra told her staff that this was the ultimate litmus test of excellence and service. “If you ever thought you weren’t making a difference, think again. You’ve made a profound difference in our client’s lives and they see Newcastle, not only as their community—but as their home. And they see the staff as kind, and tough, and they respect that.”
Staff were surprised and emotional about this “thank you.” They acknowledged that together, staff and residents have come through a lot. So many residents, in such a small place, not knowing what to expect during exceptional times, had been stressful.
“During this month,” Sandra said, “we’ve supplied sidewalk chalk to the residents because many are isolating due to Covid and our programs have been suspended, of course. WE have a lot of artists and thought it may also get people outside in the sunshine. We have been surprised by the results. Gratitude is everywhere at Newcastle it seems.”
It is hard sometimes to know what efforts make a difference in a community. Newcastle Place was envisioned by government and ICCS leaders, but it was the staff and residents who have made it work, through so many challenges. Imagine that gratitude spreading. Imagine if we all cared for each other like the Newcastle Place staff and residents do.