A New Year of Collaboration and Community

2021 was a continuation of the pandemic rollercoaster and a year in which we saw the resilience of the human spirit at its best. Continually pivoting, LifePath remained responsive thanks to dedicated staff, volunteers, and caregivers; funding from grantors; gifts from donors; leadership from our board members; support from legislators which built direct funding into the budget; and the willingness to help from members of this community. Because of these cooperative efforts, LifePath continued to make a difference in the lives of those we serve. 

Even behind masks and cautiously opened doors, we saw faces brighten and spirits lift because we showed up. Those on our front lines and behind the scenes made sure that resources continued to be shared and available and that community members were safe and healthy and were receiving home care services and proper nutrition. We learned that we can deftly change the way we do things and be successful. Knowing what we’ve accomplished together brings new meaning to the path ahead.

Even behind masks and cautiously opened doors, we saw faces brighten and spirits lift because we showed up. 

As we embark on a new year we are going to build upon these successes. The American Rescue Plan Act has provided us with the resources to help develop new programs, as well as help support and expand the current ones. These resources enable us to reimagine care to become a less fragmented and more nimble system with enhanced communication and coordination.

The pandemic has highlighted how important and integral the home care workforce is to providing adequate healthcare, and the need to better support these essential workers in order to enable older adults and individuals with disabilities to stay in their homes. Empowering the consumer and bridging the health care and home care divides will enable seamless care transitions and elevate the workforce by valuing their knowledge and respecting their work within the home. By acknowledging the essential work carried out each day through better pay, more comprehensive benefits, guaranteed hours, job security, career advancement, and training opportunities, we can build a strong and sustainable model of care. 

In December, LifePath hosted an event with our state and federal legislators to bring attention to these needs. The responsiveness of each of the legislators demonstrated their sincere investment in their constituents’ well-being and their willingness to continue to actively engage in legislation to better our communities. While the Omicron variant has steadily been taking hold across the globe, new data suggests that having a booster beyond being fully vaccinated has a significant impact on both its transmission and infection rate. If you have not yet been vaccinated or had your booster, I encourage you to do so.

As we have seen in the past two years, worldwide collaboration on COVID-19 interventions has produced faster results, due to the vast amount of data available for research. The most recent research on boosters and the development of new antiviral medications to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death are due to this extraordinary, collaborative effort. Scientists contributing to this rapid response should be applauded for their diligence and tireless efforts to protect the world population from harm. 

This is, indeed, a turning point for humanity. The simple fact that everyone around the world is experiencing the same threat has led to a deeper sense of community and caring for one another. It has given people pause to look at their lives and determine what really is of importance. People from all walks of life are finding real meaning in being of service to others, whether it is in their spare time or as a new vocation.  Volunteerism is on the rise, and I believe it is a fundamental part of what makes humanity better. 

LifePath has more volunteers than staff, and thanks to these dedicated individuals we are able to provide the services we do. If you are newly retired and are in search of a sense of purpose, or have a desire to be more involved in your community, please consider volunteering with us. We have recently brought on an Associate Director of Volunteer Resources to help guide volunteers through training and connect them to the right programs. 

Throughout the past year and continuing into the future, LifePath has engaged in much self-reflection and has undertaken a journey toward being an actualized anti-racist organization. We are training our staff to fully understand the implications and repercussions of systemic racism in our society, and how to recognise and attend to the macro and microaggressions which take place in our organizations, and in our communities. By our own definition, at LifePath, we listen first, and must be able to hear and comprehend what it means to be BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) in our community, and in the nation at large. 

Our role in supporting well-being, independence, and dignity requires us to work directly to solve health inequities—inequities in which BIPOC experience worse health outcomes than their white counterparts. This role also extends to supporting and being allies for staff, volunteers, and home healthcare workers who experience racism from those whom they are caring for. Our intention is to fully embrace, support, and defend those who are the victims of racism, and by extension any “ism,” and to be allies in the advancement of equity and inclusion. 

In this coming year, we want to grow our successes, and capitalize on the pervasive sense of stronger, more supportive communities. By being allies, working together, supporting one another through this pandemic, and continuing to both wear masks and social distance when gathering, we will ensure our well-being and make our communities better for everyone.

Barbara Bodzin
Barbara Bodzin, Former LifePath Executive Director
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