I recently facilitated a Mini-Retreat workshop as part of the staff renewal day for the Vancouver Covenant House, an organization dedicated to opening doors for homeless youth. Covenant House Vancouver is a place for young people for whom there is no one else — young people aged 16 – 24 who have either willingly fled physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse or have been forced from their homes.
The staff of the Covenant House work hard to support the homeless youth all year round. It was truly gratifying to support this dedicated, caring group of people in learning how to reduce their stress level as well as help them strengthen their self-care muscles as they care for the youth.
“By focusing on the little things, I can greatly improve how I feel.” says David McPherson, a staff member. “Thank you for helping find ways to de-stress everyday!” remarks Crystal Montecalvo, Development Officer. “A good reminder of the importance of self-care!” exclaims Jaclyn, Youth Worker.
The diverse staff of the Covenant House range in age from mid-twenties to mid-sixties. Their roles are just as diverse: youth workers, fundraisers, accountants and administrators to name just a few of the many roles involved in the staff of over ninety. All Covenant House staff connect in the common purpose that brings them to work for Covenant House: opening doors for homeless youth.
During the workshop, the staff of Covenant House were introduced to Mini-Retreats. They learned to refresh anytime, anywhere: in the office, on the street, while driving and in public transit.
Throughout the workshop staff members learned how to replenish their energy in minutes. They also learned how they might incorporate these rejuvenating Mini-Retreats into their work day. Through exploring a variety of relaxation techniques people felt inspired to try new things to care for themselves during the work day.
They identified barriers that typically stop them from recharging while at work, and how to recognize the win-win situation that using a Mini-Retreat can create. The self-care training will not only improve their work, but will also help them bring more energy and less stress to their personal lives. The Covenant House staff learned to give themselves permission to care for themselves in order to care for others.
As one of the fun, creative activities I encouraged the group to create Mini-Retreat flowers. Each staff member added their personal favourite Mini-Retreat in form of a petal and together they created twelve beautiful flowers. These flowers now decorate the walls of Covenant House facilities reminding the staff to integrate self-care and relaxation into every working day. “It (is) a good reminder of how important self-care is!” says Kristy Hayter, Covenant House staff member. “This was an excellent workshop. The skills I learned here will definitely help me alleviate stress and take time for myself.” says Tristan Klassen another staff member.
During the Mini-Retreat workshop the Covenant House staff members enjoyed connecting in a different way. Ron Strelau mentions it was a “great exercise to go through as a community.” It was great to see the Covenant House staff laugh, learn, create beautiful Mini-Retreat flowers and commit to making self-care a priority. “Refreshing – helped me re-focus my thoughts for my well-being.” says Dan Jasual.