Every August, our childcare program closes down for one week before the first day of school in order to prepare for the new year. This year, we used our annual shutdown week as an opportunity to bring our entire staff on-site to undergo Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training, team building, and presentations from our leadership to better understand and appreciate what each of us contributes to our organization.
With The Burke Foundation Early Childhood Center at YWCA Princeton and our Administrative team occupying separate wings in the building, and programs like English as a Second Language and the Breast Cancer Resource Center largely operating remotely, we haven’t had many opportunities to have our entire staff together to meet and mingle in person. Thanks to group activities facilitated by Marge Smith, former Board President turned Executive Director of YWCA Princeton and longtime community advocate, we all felt more familiar and comfortable with one another. Kyle Bonner and Ed Callahan, who work with YWCA Princeton Board Member Reina Fleury in Human Resources at Penn Medicine Princeton Health, provided invaluable resources and information surrounding authenticity and vulnerability in the workplace. We participated in exercises and discussions to recognize how privilege influences the way professionals “show up” at work, and the importance of cultivating an environment in which staff can feel seen and safe to express concerns while having their personal boundaries respected. YWCA Princeton Board Member and licensed social worker Melanie Lowe Hoffman also joined us for an interactive workshop to better understand the culture of the YW and to gain insight on the collective goals and suggestions for improvement within the organization.
The week was equal parts productive and lighthearted; each department held meetings, goal-setting sessions, and trainings. Meals and snacks were provided throughout the day—some of which were generously donated by Lillipies Bakery, Olives, and Jammin Crepes. And to keep our team caffeinated, Wawa generously provided coffee coupons! Staff also had opportunities to win prizes based on YW trivia, or randomly stumbling upon a Gumby doll mischievously hidden by COO Rose Wong.
September is a busy month for everyone at the YW: our teachers are welcoming children and families for their first week back at The Burke Foundation Early Childhood Center, our English as a Second Language fall semester starts next week, our Board of Directors and Newcomers & Friends at YWCA Princeton are returning from their summer hiatus, the Breast Cancer Resource Center is gearing up for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Beyond Pink Art Show, and we have our Centennial Block Party on the 17th. And after shutdown week, we’re ready for it!