From the Desk of Sarah Noack, Brokerage Director, UCP Oregon
As I reflect on the past year, there were beautiful highlights and certainly many difficult lowlights.
In the spring of 2021, I could not have imagined how I would be catapulted out of my home office and into a massive undertaking—establishing a second brokerage (“UCP Mentors”) in order to take on the customers from another brokerage (“Mentor”) that was closing.
In some ways, taking on 600+ customers and starting a second brokerage was completely unfathomable to consider amidst a pandemic.
In other ways, it provided the perfect opportunity to shift focus onto something fresh and energizing.
I knew that I wanted to be a part of a safety net that could catch Mentor’s customers and employees. And I knew UCP had the organizational values and foundation to do right by folks.
What I didn’t know was how powerfully the community would come together to make that happen.
All of UCP’s existing (and new!) brokerage employees gave so much—their skills, gifts, and efforts—to make absolutely certain we were ready for our new customers.
Every single need was met with “here is what I can do.”
People stayed focused and positive even when we were overwhelmed. Problems were met with curiosity and tenacity.
And through those months, the team of former Mentor employees stepped bravely forward, responding with heart and grit and hope and determination.
When UCP Mentors opened on September 1, I felt like we had successfully landed the Millennium Falcon! I am so grateful for everyone, whether they served as Chewie, Yoda, Han, or members of the band that plays the funky music in the cantina.
Here we are four months later.
The dust is settling. And we see what lies ahead--more rebuilding, more growth, some healing, and lots more work.
But for now, I want to pause for a moment and say “three cheers” to everyone who was involved. Hooray for us all! Here is to collaboration, community, and customers! Happy New Year!
--Sarah Noack, Brokerage Director
From the Desk of Ann Coffey, Executive Director, UCP Oregon
A few days ago, I shared a New Year’s post.
But, today, I have more to share.
Sometimes someone’s words seem to grab at my heart and my head.
Pat A. Fleming wrote a poem called “What Life Should Be”.
It’s beautiful and simple, and it speaks to me of UCP Oregon, of our dedication, kindness, and vision.
It speaks to me—especially—of the hearts and hands and minds of our employees—of how they managed to bring their very best, even in the midst of a pandemic.
Below are a few excerpts.
Thank you to UCP’s employees. You truly stand up with courage, every day.
FROM THE DESK OF ANN COFFEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
It’s March of 2021. This means that COVID-19 has been with us for a year.
What a year it’s been; exhausting, terrifying, and traumatic come to mind.
It's also been a time full of gratitude. The UCP community has come together and stood strong in our resiliency.
It’s been a time for growth and streamlining, as we seek new ways to complete our work; new ways to connect; new ways to find balance and purpose.
The COVID-19 vaccine is here, although not all of us are currently eligible or will choose to receive it. Scheduling has proven difficult. Inequity has been highlighted. Nevertheless, there is a light at the end of this tunnel … and I can finally say … the light is not coming from a train. It’s sunlight.
Change—good change—is on the horizon. We’re starting to envision a new future.
Folks are wondering when we’ll reopen the UCP Oregon office. I don’t have firm dates yet, or any concrete answers.
But I can tell you that we’ll base our decision (s) on:
Whew! That’s a lot to consider. We are committed to maintaining the health and safety of UCP customers and employees, to the very best of our ability.
So, I suppose I am saying: hang on. Clarity is forming. Mask up. Remain socially distanced. Assist customers to gain vaccinations if they choose to. Stay healthy and safe—we’re not at the finish line yet.
Thank you to everyone involved in keeping UCP safe. We will look back on this and feel proud. Proud to rise to the occasion among all the variables that have made this a most complex and unique year.
As you probably know, people with intellectual/developmental disabilities can get the COVID-19 vaccine now.
So, too, can their families and Support Workers (PSW's and DSP's).
And the vaccine is available in Oregon now!
But you may have some questions about the vaccine. That's why we created a new COVID-19 Vaccine info page.
On the page, we're sharing great resources created by a coalition of Oregon partners.
Check it out now!
COVID-19 is certainly proving to be a marathon!
UCP Oregon is committed to responding to COVID-19 in a way that keeps customers, employees, and the community safe.
At this time, there are no plans in the works to change our current strategies (keeping the office closed and limiting face-to-face supports as possible).
If needed, we will make some adjustments in specific service areas to be responsive to customer needs. But, rest assured, that these adjustments will be made cautiously and thoughtfully.
As always, we thank our employees. All of them are working under unprecedented conditions, especially those that are providing in-person supports. Many folks have experienced changes to their roles and duties, and are having far less social interaction with team members. They are handling these changes with grace and grit.
A shout-out to our customers as well. Many folks have their supports changed or paused. We're grateful for their flexibility and resilience.
We'll get through this, together. One day and one step at a time.
Our customers are our best role models during this time of uncertainty. They're the real experts at navigating barriers, exceptions, and challenges. They already know how to wade deep into unknown waters, deal with uncertainty, and find coping mechanisms.
Our employees are, as always, rising to any challenge, whether it's finding personal protective gear and emergency supplies, or finding ways to help customers socialize at a distance. It is clear that we ALL take the business of providing human services seriously.
One day, one customer, one step at a time.
Ann Coffey, Executive Director
We have also partnered with a few local provider agencies to acquire a few deals. And, as needed, our Executive Director, Ann, makes weekly trips in her truck to pick up and distribute orders.
And we have, so far, been able to keep our employees "whole."
We still need your help, though... more than ever! Thanks for your support!