As the calendar turned to 2020, the Providers’ Council celebrated its 45th year in operation and held an Open House for members at its new Framingham address in January. None of us could have anticipated or foreseen the global pandemic that was right around the corner.
Simply put, COVID-19 changed everything in 2020. Human services organizations were met with this challenge overnight — how to keep clients and workers safe while continuing to provide essential services throughout the Commonwealth. New acronyms, like PPE, became commonplace. Services that could be delivered remotely began to take place on a new technology called Zoom. And everyone was tasked with navigating a new normal that we had never before seen.
As always, human services organizations innovated, delivering services in ways that hadn’t previously been considered. Programs were reconfigured to allow for social distancing. Visits with loved ones took place outside and at a distance to ensure safe protocols were followed. Human services workers — always dedicated to meeting their clients’ needs — even volunteered to quarantine in COVID-positive residences and units to ensure clients continued to receive essential care throughout the pandemic. Our sector was nothing short of extraordinary during incredibly difficult times.
The Council, too, changed what we had planned for 2020 and shifted to ensure we were meeting the needs of our members during the pandemic. We moved many of our trainings and events online, including our Annual Convention & Expo, SpeakUp4Equity, and our graduate-level Certificate in Human Services Management program. We re-envisioned our Caring Force Rally and Advocacy Day into a #ReverseRally, where legislators and other public officials took to social media to thank our direct care workers. And we added members-only events and roundtables, including twice monthly calls for CEOs and HR
professionals, to keep organizations informed of the latest happenings around COVID-19.
As our state and nation continues its struggle for racial equity and justice through periods of anguish, outrage, listening and positive acts, the Council increased its focus for justice and equality for all with resources and opportunities for unlearning and learning. It goes without saying that 2020 was clearly not a year that any of us had envisioned, but even in the face of a global pandemic, we were heartened to see the efforts of all working in the human services sector to ensure the safety of clients and consumers through the most difficult of situations.
The heroes in our field displayed their talents valiantly in 2020, and we’re grateful to you for your tireless efforts on behalf of those you serve. You — our essential human services workers — are truly “our other first responders.” Thank you for all that you do every day to support one-in-ten residents throughout Massachusetts.