People – Passion – Professionalism: Staff experiences during the pandemic
Eonis Cibrian Pelayo, Community Relations and Advocacy Director
What do you like best about your job?
The community I work for. I am committed to Mountain View – not my job, title or CSA. There’s something special about this community that reminds me of my hometown and it’s been what I love most about my job.
What was it like working at CSA this past year during the pandemic? How did your job change? How did you flex, pivot and stretch to meet increasing client and/or agency need?
Things were continually changing and my workload became overwhelming. I was doing things that I had never done before, and, like everyone else, with little guidance. Early on, I developed and launched the COVID-19 rental assistance packet and updated our webpage to keep the community informed. Attendance at frequent city meetings was required to understand expectations around CSA’s role during the pandemic.
I began cross-training my temporary supervisor, volunteer coordinator and other departments in the rental assistance process. I was working all hours of the day – from training, launching and developing a program during work hours – to communications and updating our webpage at night and answering calls from case managers, community partners, and city council members during the weekends.
I look back and I have no idea how I managed to survive, but I did it for CSA, my colleagues, and for our community. It wasn’t a time for me to listen to my body, mind, and soul. I had to absolutely live and breathe CSA and adapt to the changes quickly for the success of this agency and the wellbeing of our community.
Was there a seminal moment/incident during this past year when you realized just how much the pandemic is/was impacting your clients and/or workload?
I believe it was on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Our Homeless Prevention Services (HPS) Program Director/Interim Associate Director texted me that she and her staff were no longer going to be coming into the office for safety reasons. She advised that I do the same. In that moment, I knew the pandemic was bad. I became scared too. It was surprising and shocking.
When I walked into the office that Monday, very few staff members were on-site. CSA was starting to feel dark. I recall looking at our Executive Director’s face throughout the first couple of days and noticing that the stress had begun to weigh on him – he had no poker face.
What keeps you going at work during times of great uncertainty … like COVID-19?
People. Nothing motivates me more than knowing I have the power to help others – even during a high-risk pregnancy in the middle of a pandemic. Truth is as stubborn as I am, I am always willing to help. I promised myself a long time ago that I never wanted to be the person who knew someone who needed help and didn’t help. So yes, even when I have things I need to be mindful of, I help because people motivate me.