Cultivating A Culture of Self-Care in A Home Repair Nonprofit

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The summer season is almost upon us. For many of us, it is during the summer that we see our highest volume of volunteers and complete the largest number of projects. This season of great impact does not come without great preparation. In the midst of coordinating with volunteers, homeowners, and seasonal staff, we can find ourselves lost of in the blizzard of unending logistics. As a result, spring can often feel like the marathon before the marathon. 

This winter the staff at Mountain T.O.P. read “Designed to Lead” by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck. Written specifically for church and leadership development, the book has sparked conversation surrounding our organization’s convictions, culture, and constructs. These conversations are especially timely as the arrival of our seasonal staff draws nearer by the day. We have been challenged to consider if the systems we uphold are indeed reflective of our culture, and alternatively, if our desired culture aligns with our established systems. Further, we have been compelled to ask ourselves if the culture we want for our organization is truly being inherited by our seasonal staff. 

In this season of strategic preparation, often attention is turned to refining and developing stronger constructs that will ultimately transform the effectiveness and efficiency of our work. In effort to enhance systems, our organizational culture tends to get overlooked. Unfortunately, when we hyper-focus on our processes without giving equal priority to our organizational culture, we end up exhausted. We find ourselves tired of maintaining systems and disconnected from the “why.” Is culture evaluation and preparation as much of a priority for your organization as refining systems? 

A simple example of evaluating organizational culture is by examining the prioritization of self-care. Those of us in social justice-driven vocations are often guilty of taking better care of others than ourselves, sacrificing our own needs, even our own well-being in order to serve others better. No one, however, benefits from our burnout. Serving from an empty tank should never have to be an option, but too often it is our reality. Instead, we should be serving from a place of overflow. Does your organization value self-care enough to allow for staff to get the rest they need before launching into a busy season? 

Ultimately, the health of your culture depends on the health of its leaders. Sure, we may believe that, but does our culture reflect that belief? We have to hold ourselves, and each other, accountable for self-care. How can seasonal staff be expected to sustain a culture of self-care if their leaders are constantly burnt out? Are we asking our seasonal staff to prioritize self-care without providing them with the means of doing so? We can maximize efficiency and revise schedules all we want, but until we have a culture that stands behind those systems, we’ll be starting out the summertime tired and uninspired. 

As we coordinate projects with clients, let’s be reminded of the health and hope that will be restored because of a repaired home. 

As we enhance training materials for seasonal staff, let’s be reminded of the growth that will take place in new leaders. 

As we coordinate with volunteers, let’s be reminded of the impact they will make in alleviating substandard housing. 

Now is particularly important time to “fill your tank.” Self-care is a discipline, no doubt. It won’t happen without a heavy dose of intentionality. Self-care is designed for rest, recreation, and reflection. As counterintuitive as it seems, we are better when we are rested. Our impact is minimized when we get too prideful to take care of ourselves. Don’t wait until you need repair and recovery to start investing in self-care. Let’s take time—both individually and collectively—to be inspired by the accomplishments of past seasons, take time to celebrate the victories as they happen, and be energized by the impact that is on the horizon. 

Summer is coming—in all its greatness and chaos—and will be here before we know it. Are you and your team in a place to serve healthily and effectively? 

Resource: Article in Forbes, Self Care is Not an Indulgence. It’s a Discipline.

Rachael Osborn is the Program Manager: Ministry Logistics at Mountain T.O.P. She oversees the volunteer registration and preparation process, as well as program assessment. Rachael loves starting her day with a good cup of tea.

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