Our client, Jill Weidemann-West, CEO of People Incorporated Mental Health Services, said it best last year in a MinnPost article during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, “The fear and isolation of COVID, the disruption to our businesses, families, children and educational systems, and, of course, the unrest and trauma so present in our communities has pushed mightily on our resilience, our sense of safety and our hope.”
In short – and to echo what we all already know: the past year-plus has been a whole lot.
As someone who grapples with mental illness in “normal times,” living and working through a pandemic has exacerbated some symptoms and tested many of the coping mechanisms I’d packed my toolbox with over the years. But I’ll tell you, working with a team who acknowledges the hard stuff, while seeking out and planning for the good stuff has been the brightest light for me through it all. Equally significant is the work we get to shine a light on for our clients who are doing impactful, innovative and downright important things to improve the quality of life for and mental health of our communities:
- Second Harvest Heartland continues to be a client that fills my personal cup, while they’re literally helping to fill the tables of Minnesotans facing food insecurity. We’d been telling hopeful stories pre-pandemic about hunger reaching pre-Great Recession levels. When COVID hit our state seemingly overnight, hunger began rising due to furloughs and layoffs, kids missing school meals, and the sheer need to stay home to control the virus spread. Second Harvest Heartland met the need quickly and creatively by packing and delivering emergency food boxes to food shelves and hosting emergency grocery pop-ups with contactless curb-to-trunk distribution. They also partnered with Chowgirls Catering and Loaves & Fishes to form Minnesota Central Kitchen (MCK) – a collaboration of restaurants, caterers, commercial kitchens, hunger-relief organizations, community-based partners, and donors to keep foodservice workers employed and community members fed through prepared meals. We helped tell the MCK story – and raise over $700,000! – to commemorate a year of the program through the Pitch In for the Kitchen campaign. Working with Second Harvest Heartland through the pandemic has been a reason to get out of bed each morning… and walk across the hall to my desk!
- Our work with People Incorporated looked much different last year than it has in years past. In 2019, much of our time was spent ramping up to the big 50-year anniversary gala. In 2020, the organization’s Training Institute became a resource for anyone struggling to lead a team through the crisis, coping with the extreme stress of a 180-degree lifestyle change or learning about trauma-informed care. When the mask mandate was new, we helped the Training Institute share their expertise for empathetic de-escalation when met with defiance. It’s a constant reminder – and honor – when working with People Incorporated that we all have mental health, and supporting the mental health of our whole community serves us all better as a result.
- R3 Continuum (R3c) has been an invaluable resource for hundreds of companies as they navigate “unprecedented” challenges related to workplace stress, crisis, security threats, mental health concerns and more. R3 Continuum has been a pillar of strength and a trusted resource by many organizations for over 25 years. A global leader in workplace behavioral health and security solutions, R3c helps to ensure the psychological and physical safety of organizations and their employees in today’s complex and often dangerous world. From transitioning back to in-person work, supporting employees’ mental health and navigating the second pandemic, we’ve enjoyed telling the stories of the very real ways this client is supporting companies in critical ways – and we’ve learned valuable lessons that have benefitted our own team along the way.
This client work is meaningful to us at Bellmont Partners as we see the ripple effects on communities and their businesses.
Equally important to our team is taking care of ourselves to be able to sustain good work, and rest plays a big role in that. One small way we’re prioritizing that together is by taking a collective break as an agency on Friday, May 28, to reboot and recharge over the Memorial Day weekend.
I know I’ll be using some of that time reflecting on the privilege it is to work with and for people who deeply care about people.
Take good care.