Many of us, if we’re lucky, have spent the past few (and the next few) weeks working from home. Many more are struggling to make ends meet as they face layoffs in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. Still others are going into work - into offices, medical facilities, grocery stores and other businesses deemed essential. These essential employees are helping to keep the rest of us afloat.
One such employee is RJLF’s very own Fellow “Joseph”. Joseph is a youth counselor at a residential facility, where he works 40 hours per week. He says that while his one-on-one work with the kids continues much as it did prior to COVID-19, there have been some noticeable changes at the facility. “All of the employees have to wear masks or they’re sent home. Your temperature is taken before you come into the building. If it’s over 100, you get sent home.” He adds that everything has to be sanitized, a lot.
For the youth at the facility, life has gone virtual. Their schooling and visits with families are now online. No visitors are permitted within the building. There are no community activities. And even their interactions with each other have lessened. Rather than eating as a large group, the kids now eat lunch 10 at a time. “No one can sit [right] next to each other,” says Joseph.
When asked if he’s nervous going into work still and what it feels like to be deemed an essential employee, Joseph says that his main worry is that if he gets infected, he may unknowingly infect others. But overall, he feels lucky.
“You feel blessed to be working; you appreciate it,” he says. “A lot of people at my job, they’re the only people working right now in their families.
“We aren’t as important as the doctors and nurses, but we are trying to take care of kids.”
RJLF is so proud of Joseph and incredibly privileged to know him. Keep doing the work that you do Joseph, and thank you.