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Trailblazers 2021 Honoree: Search's Frontline Staff

This past year has been among the most challenging in Search's 50+ years. It’s striking to think of just how drastically our lives have changed. All of us have been impacted in some way by the pandemic, having to cope with disruptions to our daily lives and uncertainty about the future. All of us have been called to action whether it’s been to stay at home or to go out and work to serve others.

Here at Search, our staff members - from our Direct Support Professionals to our case managers to our management and clinical teams to our IT department and physical plant crews - have shown up to support the people we serve and each other in a time of great need. They haven’t had the option of staying home because for the individuals we serve, Search IS home. During this crisis they have been working around the clock to keep people safe, healthy and maybe most importantly in good spirits.

As one of our valued staff members put it, “We are Search Strong! Hold onto hope, look for the helpers, and take time to breathe! After the storm comes the rainbow."

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When infection rates peaked in the spring of 2020, and then peaked again in the fall, 83 staff members sacrificed time with their families and volunteered to live-in 24/7 for weeks at a time at our 29 residential sites. This was put in place to minimize the risk of exposure to the virus for the individuals we serve. In some cases, staff members volunteered for live-in duty knowing that individuals in the home they would be working at had tested positive for COVID-19.

Live-in staff had to monitor residents for symptoms, including routine temperature checks and symptom management. This was all while preparing meals, cleaning and sanitizing the home, assisting individuals with taking their medications and simply helping the residents cope with the disruption this pandemic has caused in their lives by having a little fun – all while wearing PPE!

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As live-in volunteer Ashley put it at the time, “These ladies needed around the clock care. They needed to know that they would not go through this time alone but with a familiar face around the house. This is a big adjustment for all of us and all we can do is continue to be optimistic and keep positive vibes flowing throughout the atmosphere.”

Then, there were the remarkable, yet mostly unseen, contributions of our operations teams working tirelessly to make sure that every day (and not so every day) operations like staffing of our program sites, payroll, recruitment and the distribution of PPE continued without interruption under challenging circumstances.  Staff spent endless hours on their laptops with Search participants making sure that almost every hour of the day was filled with opportunities for remote activities on Zoom, from daily workout sessions to virtual tours of museums to online dance parties. The physical plant team went above and beyond to keep our homes and program sites well taken care of and safe for the individuals we serve and their support staff.

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Everyone pitched in to do everything they could. Staff members did the grocery shopping for our homes, built activity boxes, and provided daily no contact deliveries of food, medication and other supplies to 29 different residential sites over the course of this past year. Our clinical services team spared no effort to make sure that our residents got the critical medical, nursing and behavioral health care they needed and deserved without interruption, even as they sheltered in-place at home.

Regardless of position title or job description, each to a person at Search set aside personal risk and stepped up to selflessly take their place on the frontline of our pandemic response. Whatever role they might have played at Search before COVID-19, each one is a frontline hero now, and we are so grateful for their bravery, dedication and compassion. Their resilience, grace and optimism in the face of adversity has been a constant source of light in this difficult time.  At every single level, in every program, the commitment of our staff has shined through. We are thrilled to honor our Front Line Heroes with our 2021 Search Trailblazer Award.

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Read more about our other Trailblazers 2021 Honoree, Resurrection University Nursing and Health Sciences.

Register for our virtual event on Thursday, May 20th here.

Learn more about our 2021 event here.

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