At our monthly team meetings, one of our crew members discusses some of our five values: strength, courage, commitment, heart, and spark. This is Lesley’s reflection from this month’s meeting.
YACC hosted Retreat Yourself Ontario in March 2020. During the planning of the event, COVID-19 was creeping across the world, but it had not “hit” North America yet and it didn’t really factor into the planning decisions for the event. Until it did. While we were at the retreat, Canada really started to feel the effects of the pandemic. Schools were closing, businesses were telling people to work from home, and the country was slowly starting to move into lockdown.
We all managed to arrive home after the retreat safe, healthy, and with a renewed sense of gratitude for the weekend we got to share together in our safe bubble before coming back into a world with more chaos than before.
On this very same weekend, YACC was scheduled to host our largest fundraising event of the year, the Shave for the Brave. But, due to safety concerns for our staff, volunteers, Shavers, and their families, we had to cancel. That meant cancelling a huge chunk of our annual revenue.
March started full of hope; the retreat was coming up and the Shave was underway, but in one short weekend, we had to face the reality that life at YACC wouldn’t be the same. Not for a long time.
We would not be able to host any face-to-face events for some time (support-based or fundraising-focused) and the way we delivered our programs needed to shift. We decided to postpone our largest support program (the Survivor Conference) from May to October (which has since been cancelled for 2020), but we didn’t want to leave our YACCers with nothing. So, we did what we always do — we changed with times, we bounded over a huge learning curve, and delivered an incredible virtual conference in under six weeks to ensure our YACCers were able to connect and feel supported by their cancer peers.
We did this while also creating two other brand new virtual programs — YACC Web: Chats and YACC Web: Talks. To say we were busy from April through June is an understatement. But, in true YACC fashion, we anticipated the needs of our community and initiated program development and follow through.
We couldn’t do this alone, however. We have learned over the years that our community of YACCers has a wealth of expertise, knowledge, ideas, and passion. The community came out to help us, support us, educate us, and guide us through the development and delivery of these new initiatives.
This brings me to today. Over the past few weeks, the world is starting to “open up” again, but as the world starts to return to some form of “new normal” — however temporary that may be — it does not automatically transcend into our world.
The population we are committed to serving is part of the high-risk community. Many live with compromised immune systems. We need to maintain their safety, which means discontinuing face-to-face events for a while longer. But we are committed to our community and we are committed to building even more online programming to suit their needs.
I am proud of the work we have done since March. We all dug in, educated ourselves, tested the waters of this new “virtual pool,” and are fired up to see what the next chapter of YACC will look like.
With the help of the community I know we will find a perfect balance of support, connection, education, and fun.