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How we’re responding to COVID-19, Part Three: Our People

This is the third and final post about how we’re adapting to COVID-19. We’ve already discussed how our programs are supporting public health responses around the world; in this post, we’ll focus on the people behind the programs.

Our first priority has been the health and safety of our staff, our grantees and their staff, and the people close to them. Our China team, of course, has been at home for weeks. This is now the third week at home for most of our U.S. staff—made possible by long hours from our IT colleagues.

Like everyone else, we’re learning how to feel connected while we’re working remotely. That means replacing many of our conference calls with Zoom. We’re also using Zoom for virtual happy hours and a book club, along with regular hangouts where people can check in and chat about different topics (latest books read and shows watched, cooking ideas). We’re also collecting resources for at-home entertainment and volunteer opportunities to help people affected by the crisis.

Our staff has looked for ways to support the broader community together, as well. Colleagues have collected funds for two charities near our headquarters: the Capital Area Food Bank, which feeds D.C.-area families, and the Coronavirus Worker Relief Fund, supporting restaurant and food service industry workers.

Our team also figured out another way to maintain social bonds while supporting the community: something the organizers are calling “(Future) Lunch for a Cause.” Participants are each buying a gift certificate for a locally-owned restaurant relatively near the office. Once everyone is back in the office, they’ll be paired with other participants at random to have lunch together.

We know every organization, and every person and household, is responding to these unique times in their own way. What has become clear, though, is that our calling to promote global health isn’t just about altruism. Our health and wellbeing depend on the health and wellbeing of everyone around us.