The words pandemicand struggle have been going hand in hand for over a year now. People, communities, and businesses alike are struggling to make ends thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even with vaccines being rolled out, the fight against COVID is a daily struggle that we are all learning to live with.
ND Property Services (NDPS) is no exception.
Before COVID became a harsh reality, individuals employed by ND Property Services would report to our main office at 717 Portage Ave. every day before heading off to the jobsites, typically with a ratio of two NDPS employees to one New Directions staff member.
This made communicating with NDPS employees easy, since everyone was in the same place together.
When pandemic restrictions came into play, preventing groups from gathering in the office, that ease of communication was gone.
New Directions staff had a harder time keeping in touch with NDPS employees because many of them do not have regular access to a cellphone or email.
“We still had staff that were able to work though,” says Alex Guidry, ND Property Services Coordinator. “We took on a big capital project during the first round of shutdowns, letting us work on one bigger project instead of ten to twenty smaller ones, meaning we were able to limit staff exposure.”
“We also took on more outdoor work, which allowed New Directions staff to work safely with individuals employed by ND Property Services,” adds Guidry.
Since the pandemic restrictions did not allow for NDPS employees to receive the same level of supports and communication as they were used to, most of the jobs they took on were completed by New Directions staff, who supervise and work alongside the NDPS employees.
“There was no safe way to keep staff and NDPS employees together,” adds Guidry.
When restrictions were loosened over the summer, NDPS started bringing back employees to work, while maintaining small crew sizes on job sites to limit potential spread.
Being back at work gave Austin Guiboche’s leadership skills a chance to shine.
Austin was a new hire with NDPS, joining the team when the pandemic was in full swing. From the start, he showed up on time, was eager to get to work everyday, and showed initiative on the job sites.
When Guidry offered him a spot as Crew Leader, Austin took it without a second thought.
“I think they saw the determination in me. I would show up on time and be excited to work. I think that’s why Alex offered me the job,” says Austin.
Austin was not the only one proving themselves as a skilled team leader. NDPS saw three other employees show they could become responsible Crew Leaders. “One of them had a working cell phone and was responsible for organizing supplies for the job sites and submitting crew work hours,” says Guidry.
“We saw increased motivation and pride with the participants who were able to work on their own.”
But then as we all know, a second wave of the pandemic came and with it more restrictions. Job sites were reduced to the bare minimum of workers, just like they were in the first round of the pandemic.
Following public safety protocols has not been easy for ND Property Services, but they have met that challenge head on each day.
Even with restrictions in place, NDPS is still a place helping those who are experiencing barriers to employment.
Peter Goosehead Ross left NDPS in February 2020 to be a full-time dad to his two daughters.
Peter says that he loves being a full-time dad and spending time with his daughters. He admits raising kids can be tough but being a family together is great.
Even with his experience with NDPS, Peter says that “I am not looking for anything new right now, but I think I want to go back to school…I want to help the world some day. The world isn’t great right now, but I think I can make it better.”
Austin says he has been thinking about his future a lot lately, and he wants to pursue his Journeyman licensing to become a painter, and plans to stick with NDPS for a while to build skill and experience, but also says he wants to build his leadership skills too.
Right now, NDPS is operating with small crew sizes, doing their part to limit any potential spread of COVID-19 and ensuring everyone’s safety.
“We are looking forward to a having everyone in the same room and having an NDPS bbq or something at our new location on Warsaw,” concludes Guidry.