As of today, most families are officially back to school. My older son Luca began his freshman year of college online, and, barring last minute changes, we head to Charleston this weekend for his move-in. My younger son Alex began tenth grade with hybrid learning, and, as a board member, I am helping to manage a fully virtual fall at my high school alma mater. We are all taking it week by week. Good luck to everyone navigating this unusual academic year – and to your children!
In addition to the normal business of the season and the new burden of virtual school, we have been sustaining COVID stress for six months now. I recommend the article “Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted,” which articulates the challenge well and promotes Michael Maddaus’s idea of a resilience bank account. The author specifically advocates for foundational self-care like sleep, nutrition, exercise, meditation, self-compassion, gratitude, connection, and saying no. This feels like a road map I can get on board with.
In light of this, Avalon will extend our traditional “summer Fridays” into autumn with “fall wellness Fridays.” We will close the office at 3:30pm on Fridays through the end of December, with strong encouragement that our team use the time for a wellness activity.
On a slightly different note (although coffee is definitely a key resource helping me get through this pandemic), many of us have watched with dismay as our local coffee shops have struggled, victims of the pandemic. The shop in our building is closing permanently, and many are hanging on by a thread. We have decided to spend some of our in-office coffee savings and will reimburse one trip to a local coffee shop each week for every employee. This has the added benefit of supporting local businesses carefully and safely, to ensure their future survival.
We also continue internal work on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). We have engaged an experienced diversity consultant to audit, review, and help guide us towards this vision. It is also my goal to share more resources that support our independent journeys of education and action. In a wonderful, personal intersection, Avalon’s office manager Cherea Stoney’s daughter Ashley Stoney recently published an insightful essay in New York Magazine’s OVERLOADED series about the challenges of working in an unequal America. I also recommend the upcoming TNPA webinar featuring nonprofit executives who have prioritized DEI at their organizations.
On the fundraising front, we hear from AB Data that USPS letter delivery is largely steady. Marketing mail is on schedule, and first-class is running about a day behind. That being said, there is some discrepancy by locality, and the shape of your mail is a factor. Package mailers are experiencing greater delays due to the COVID-driven spike in overall package volume. This update is similar to reports I have shared from Production Solutions and PMG. It’s good to know the mail trackers are consistent across the industry.
Finally, I’d like to make one more plug for poll recruitment. Some localities are reporting a record shortage of workers due to COVID, and this year’s November 3rd election is expected to motivate high turnout. Avalon is allowing employees to sign up to be a poll worker and will grant additional time off for training and working election day. I signed up last week and look forward to the experience. Here is an easy way to get started, if you would like to participate.