Support2Support connected charitable leaders navigating similar challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic
Rhonda Taylor was just nine months into her new position as CEO of Career Trek in March 2020, when COVID-19 completely altered the everyday operations of the non-profit. At the time she felt frozen, overwhelmed with decisions about how to shift the organization’s programming online, concerns about future funding, and uncertainty about how to ensure her staff’s wellbeing.
“There definitely was an unbalancing of everything that we ever knew within the organization,” says Taylor.
When Taylor was invited to join Support2Support, a Volunteer Manitoba program aimed at bringing non-profit leaders together to address the challenges they faced in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, she hesitated – it came at an exceptionally busy time when Taylor wouldn’t have typically sought out professional development.
“When I look back at it now, even though things were so busy, it was such an important program to be part of on so many levels – for myself, personally, for the organization as a whole.”
Members of Support2Support met online each week between June and September 2021 to take part in webinars focused on developing skills and resiliency around topics such as uncertainty, stress, and time management. In the whirlwind of change and activities that came with it, Taylor appreciated the new perspective the program shared.
“It was around just stopping for a moment. Giving yourself a second to breathe. Give yourself even two minutes to get up from your desk. Take a breath, do some mindfulness activities – if there’s space for humour, take it and use it,” says Taylor, adding that it was nice to know she could use humour in her situation, because at times it didn’t feel funny.
One of the most significant and helpful components of the program for Taylor was connecting with other non-profit leaders who were navigating similar challenges.
“It was that piece of community and coming together,” said Taylor.
“To see other people on the screen showing up, to have these conversations was so vital for so many reasons. Part of it was … knowing I’m not doing this all by myself. The worries I had about not being capable to get the organization through this – there were 10 or 12 others faces on the screen, whether they were saying that or thinking that. That made me feel like … you’re not doing this alone, you’ve got a group of people that you can either talk to right here in the moment, or you can follow up with after.”