NWSNC: the inside scoop on staff


A phrase I am sure we have all heard at least once is “Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life”. 

While what we do inside the walls of Northwest Spay and Neuter Center is HARD WORK, it is also rewarding, impactful, meaningful, and incredibly important.  The people behind this work often stay behind the scenes, which is where they prefer to be.  However, something happened in the last few weeks during this crisis that really demonstrated the community that exists within our little clinic that gets poured into the work that we do on a daily basis.

COVID-19 is a situation that is changing and evolving every day.  What we thought might just be a postponed gala turned into a 10 day closure.  And then that 10 day closure turned into a longer closure, and the news bombarded us with story upon story of layoffs in the tens of thousands right in our own backyard.  This is scary stuff.  This is the sort of situation no one is prepared for, and the thought of losing a job in a time where everything is different (kids at home; grocery stores depleted; daycare closed) seems completely disastrous. 

I don’t think anyone goes into a layoff or labor reduction strategy with any feeling other than dread or defeat.  This isn’t a call any boss wants to make.  This pandemic, if anything, can offer a lesson in preparedness and cooperation, and that is what happened among the employees of NWSNC.

Hours and hours of calls among the board of directors and clinic leadership included brainstorming and strategy on how to keep clinic employees on board.  Our clinic does one thing, and one thing well, however that one thing (spay and neuter) has been deemed elective during this crisis, and clinic like ours our encouraged (or ordered, depending on who is delivering the message) to cease these services in an effort to preserve equipment and to keep people safe and healthy. 

Clinic staff strategized as well.  What if we used our PTO (paid time off) to bridge this gap of uncertainty, in an effort to stay employed, avoid further stress and strain on the state unemployment system, and to demonstrate that a little cooperation could go a long way?  In the most complicated of math problems, it was determined that some employees had exactly what they needed; some had more than they needed; and some had nothing or not nearly enough.

So what next?  Should it be a survival of the fittest scenario?  It could have been; but it was so much better. 

Those members of NWSNC who had more PTO than they needed (based on usage/time in service) offered to donate dozens and dozens of hours to cover the gap needed for employees who didn’t have enough.  In the end, we had a perfect balance of hours needed (and the value of those hours) to cover this unexpected closure.  That is the kind of organic magic that any nonprofit leader can hope for.  This was completely voluntary, and overwhelmingly generous and selfless. 

Board President (and one of the original founders of the organization) Chris Kim offers this sentiment from the governing body of the clinic: “The selflessness and generosity of our employees sharing their paid time off is one more example of why I believe our people are our greatest asset.  It’s especially important to recognize that this creative problem solving allows our clinic to reopen at full strength as soon as allowed, and it’s a reflection of our employees’ commitment to providing high quality spay/neuter services to everyone in our community.  We look forward to getting back to doing just that as soon as safely possible”.

Regardless of the intended audience that your nonprofit of choice serves, there are humans behind that service.  When the humans are capable of delivering selfless service when no one is looking, that organization will survive and thrive in the toughest of conditions.  We often use this newsletter to express our gratitude to our supporters outside of the organization, and that hasn’t changed.  However, this piece is solely dedicated to the gratitude that has been earned within the organization.  NWSNC is made up of some very good humans. 

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