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Yesterday, many cities across the Nation had their Day Without Immigrants.

What started as a boycott where several restaurants decided to show their support to the cause, bloomed into a full protests that started at the Austin City Hall and ended at the Capitol. In Austin alone, more than 40 eateries kept their doors shut. Some of those venues took me by surprise as they did not serve any kind of Latin America inspired cuisine. Nonetheless, I was grateful for the support —and then it dawned on me.

Read more: A Day Without Immigrants

February 10, 2017

Post by Jason Phillips, VISTA Program Manager

 

I’m fortunate to serve as the VISTA Program Manager with the Texas Homeless Network (THN). Our AmeriCorps VISTA projects work towards alleviating the consequences of poverty and ending homelessness across the state. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to El Paso, TX to meet with our partners and provide some training. Being based in Austin, most of my job is over the phone and via the internet, so I am always thrilled when I get the chance to see in-person how communities throughout Texas are addressing the complex issues surrounding homelessness. For this trip I had three main goals: (1) to meet and train our new VISTA members and supervisors, (2) get a glimpse of the strengths and challenges of the community in addressing homelessness, and (3) to eat as much delicious food as I could.

Read more: Enchiladas and El Paso

 

Posted February 7, 2017

By Mary Rychlik, LMSW, Continuum of Care Manager

On January 26th, I participated in a Point-In-Time (PIT) Count. Working in administration, planning, and policy means I work mostly with service providers and community leaders but not often with people living in homeless situations. The Count reconnected me to that part of my work that touches my heart, energizing my passion to end homelessness.

Read more: I Will Tell Both Stories

Happy 2017!

I know, it's already the third week of the year, but I haven't talked to a lot of you yet. Plus, the first couple of weeks, are always the hardest, because you're planning and getting used to the idea of being back at the office after the holidays.

But, in order for this year to be better than the last, we need to get this ball rolling and for that reason, we want to make sure we are on the same page on how this year will work from the HMIS Data Center perspective. What better way to kickstart this than by having a webinar?

Read more: HMIS: 2017 First Webinar

Posted January 11, 2017

By Jennifer Paulsen, Director of Development & Communications

Today THN hosted the first Bloc Talk of the year. Bloc Talks typically are short, 20-minute presentations followed by a 10-minute Q&A session. However, today’s talk lasted an hour. The topic? Self-care. Many of us aspire to incorporate self-care into our daily lives with the best of intentions but it can easily fall to the bottom of our priorities. We may think it’s being selfish or that self-care is going shopping or a spa day (I’m not opposed to either).

But it’s not being selfish and it’s more than treating ourselves occasionally. We cannot take care of others if we are not taking care of ourselves. This is important no matter what your vocation is, but especially if your work involves helping and/or caring for people. But let’s face it, we’re all working and caring for someone to some extent, whether it’s at home or a friend or at work.

Krista Del Gallo, Public Policy Manager and Mikisha Hooper, Family Violence Services Manager, both with the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV), presented on why it’s important we pay attention to wellness, the impacts of secondary trauma, compassion fatigue, and burnout, and how to go about intentionally and holistically prioritize your own self-care and well-being.

Some of the suggestions Krista and Mikisha gave to incorporate wellness into your work include being intentional about how you start and end your day, focus on what you did well, and breathe! Krista, also a Yoga instructor, started us out by breathing for 30 seconds and suggested we start a practice of wellness in the New Year and leave behind the guilt and shame if we’ve tried before or we don’t keep it up. We can keep trying – that’s why it’s practice.

Breathing seems so simple – we all do it instinctively but what about intentionally? I have a smart watch that reminds me to take a minute to breathe and that it’s time to stand up and move around. However, most of the time when the reminder to breathe appears, I hit “dismiss” as if it’s an annoying alarm clock. I don’t have time to breathe! Can’t you see I’m busy?? There is something seriously wrong if I can’t take a minute to consciously breathe. One minute. And when it’s time to stand up and move around I dismiss that as well – I just sat down! I’m working on something. Can’t you see that??

Krista and Mikisha also emphasized the benefits of Mindfulness and being present. Along with increasing work engagement and resilience in high-stress environments, it decreases levels of depression and anxiety symptoms. For agencies that may not emphasize wellness in the workplace, they suggest creating a wellness committee and finding other champions (you being one). Chances are other co-workers are feeling the need to incorporate more wellness into the workplace as well.

After the webinar, I took those breaks to breathe and picked up the dumbbells I brought to work when prompted to stand and move about.  I’m going to continue to practice incorporating these habits.

View the recording here: https://youtu.be/Rc2DFtD5HUs?list=PL5c_GwJUb6953q1xTEcb3mGyTOPPB7-Bu