I grew up and still live in a town that has more cows than people. If the elevation surpasses the population, that is the town for me. In Rural communities, you know your neighbor’s favorite cookie and take it to them every second Sunday in May because they lost their mom ten years ago. In rural areas, everyone, just like the Cheers theme song, knows your name. Rural areas love well.
However, rural areas also face more challenges than the big cities. We don’t have reliable public transportation, we have about two childcare places to choose from, and in a pandemic, the hurdles of a rural area are amplified. Staffing is hard in all areas but especially difficult in areas with fewer people to choose from in general. Covid hit our Rural areas hard.
The past year has completely changed our ILS teams in Tehama and Siskiyou counties. It has made it difficult to serve people who live an hour away from each other, and our teams are fresh, new and some don’t even know Compass outside a pandemic. I could spend many pages of this newsletter talking about all the hurdles of this pandemic for our rural communities, but instead, I want to honor the magic they have created.
Dreams Coming True
Dreams happened this year. We couldn’t drive everywhere so clients like Jaiden got their permit. We had to stay home so homeless clients like Samantha got their first apartment so they had a place to call home. Clients like Victor in Tehama became tutors for others who decided to go back to college. While dreams happened, the community happened in an even more special way.
We couldn’t find enough staff in Siskiyou so we found the right ones like Noah M and Ashley W who live all the way in Shasta and serve caseloads across the county line. In Tehama, two life coaches, Yesenia and Shannon did the work of 5. We did a virtual Social Dis-Dance where clients and staff in four communities could do the Cupid Shuffle with each other via a screen. We may not have all the seats on our bus filled, but the ones we do have are the highest quality of community members we ever have had.
The beautiful thing about this pandemic is that it created a perfect environment to start over, to dream again, to stop excuses, and think outside the box. We have all heard about the SLS Renaissance 2 process happening. This pandemic caused us to have our own Rural Renaissance in ILS. We aren’t the same team we were a year ago. We are better. We are stronger and more tenacious. We think so far outside the box we forgot there was ever a box, to begin with. Robert Frost once said, “Two Roads Diverged and I chose the one less traveled.”
Paving the Way
We are taking the road never traveled and paving the way with every step we make in the right direction. ILS is here to stay, to thrive, and to do what we do best – make dreams come true. If you’re reading this article, I want you to take it to your social media and celebrate what dream you had come true this year. Kayla, tell the world how you got a full time
Position on the mobile crew. Janice, tell us all how you went from ILS client to SLS staff. The world may have stopped, but ILS never will. In the words of our favorite hoodie, we can, we will end of the story.