• Sheila Kinscherf

Connection, Community, & Change: A 2020 Story

2020, COVID-19, remote working, isolation, CHANGE. So many words to describe a very different year. 2020 certainly was different, difficult, and lonely at times. When we transitioned to remote work in March of 2020, no one knew the extent of the virus, how it spread—it was scary. My husband and I worked outdoors through the spring, landscaping in our yard and taking on new projects to pass the time We were sure this virus would pass by summer. How wrong we were!


One blessing amidst it all has been the connection and community I have found and maintained throughout the pandemic. My husband works from home and has for many years. I have learned so much about just that aspect of our daily lives this last year, and I have a greater understanding of his work experience, as I’m sure he now does with mine as well.


I have also been able to stay connected to family and friends via Facetime and Zoom. While it is not the same, of course, it is far better than nothing. We had learned at Christmas of 2019 that we were going to become grandparents; now, we needed to stay apart from our daughter, no hugs, no kisses, none of the things we had anticipated doing in the months before our grandchild arrived. Instead, we stayed in touch with masked, social-distanced driveway visits and checked in on her wellbeing remotely. We planned a virtual baby shower, and we had a great time with lots of laughs, games, and great memories.


On August 1, our granddaughter arrived, healthy and happy. We were overjoyed. We still do not have a photo of ourselves with her without masks, but we look forward to the day when that will be possible. It is such a small price to pay to keep everyone safe.

A connection I did not anticipate finding this year was greater compassion for myself. Early on in the pandemic, I was committed to getting into “shape,” “eating right,” all the typical resolutions when trying to control something out of your control. Of course, none of that happened—until recently. A year into COVID-19, I do eat better, I have started a daily yoga practice, I take walks in my beautiful neighborhood, and I try not to criticize myself too harshly. Once I let go of the need to try to control the pandemic by controlling myself, it changed how I related to myself and those goals.


I can credit a big part of that change to the work I do every day. I am fortunate that I have the opportunity and equipment to work from home, and I wake up every day happy to go to work. It is easy for me to become intimidated by the talent I am surrounded by here at the Consortium, but I am so proud to be a member of this team and the great work we do within the behavioral health field. I still remember the first training I attended with the Consortium in 2017 on “Creating a Culture of Trauma-Informed Care,” led by my supervisor, Colette Anderson. I sat transfixed in the front row, trying to absorb as much information as possible. At some point during this training, I turned around and viewed the room in total. I realized that this large group of attendees was such a small percentage of the dedicated individuals working within the behavioral health field, committed to assisting their clients every day.


As we push past a year of living with this pandemic, and as we start to see the light at the end of this challenging and dark tunnel, I think of those attendees and the people they represent. I think of everyone who has worked so hard during this pandemic to connect those in need with the support required to find healing and compassion for themselves. I remain so grateful for the knowledge they hold, their sincere willingness to help, and the work they do to assist others in becoming their best selves. All our work, accommodations, and sacrifices are connected, and I know through it all that we are surviving together as something greater than the sum of our parts — a community.

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