Chelan-Douglas County Volunteer Attorney Services – Wenatchee
Eloise Barshes is the executive director of Chelan-Douglas County Volunteer Attorney Services, which bridges the justice gap in Chelan and Douglas counties by facilitating high quality, free, and equitable civil legal services to low-income people. Here, she shares how she’s taking care of her team and finding reasons to celebrate.
2020 is coming to a close. How are you feeling?
I am feeling tired and grateful. This year has been a wild ride with a lot of twists and turns. The first four or five months of the pandemic felt especially chaotic and uncertain. We were quick to respond and adjust, only to adjust again and again. Despite the ups and downs, we’ve been fortunate to be financially stable because of the PPP Loan, support grants and a few significant donations. This has allowed us to focus on supporting clients and staff. For this, we are so grateful!
How are you taking care of yourself and your staff right now?
We are a team of four. We have weekly staff meetings, with check-ins, we try to find reasons to celebrate (birthdays, milestones like first time voting, renting a first apartment, etc.) Staff are treated to lunch sometimes. I’ve dropped off a few take-out dinners too. We are planning a more robust end of year appreciation with gifts of logo wear and bonuses, etc. We’ve never done that before, but it feels really nice to do. I’ve personally been juggling work and keeping two elementary-aged students engaged in school, with my husband. Having more time with them has been really nice, but it’s also exhausting. The workday and school day blend together. It doesn’t seem to end until my head hits the pillow. To cope with the emotional rollercoaster of this pandemic, I’ve been making time to walk and reach out to friends so I can let go of some of the burdens of the day.
What do you hope for 2021?
I really hope that we can find some more stability in 2021. For me, that means that kids are back in school so parents can regroup. That we have a vaccine that keeps people safe and allows us to open back up. I also hope that folks who were not devasted by this pandemic continue to lift up those who are struggling by supporting the noble missions of nonprofit organizations throughout our state.
What support do you or your organization need in 2021?
As the post-COVID floodgates open in the next year, we know that we will see even greater need for our free, civil legal services. We need continued financial support so that we can put our energy on serving our community. We need advocacy that provides adequate support and resources for individuals and families buried by debt as a result of this pandemic.
What are you most proud of this year?
I am really proud that our team and our board of directors have used this time to reflect and grow. We are clearer about what we believe, our organizational values, and the purpose of our work. I think we are stronger than ever. I am proud that adversity has brought out the best in us.
What message or advice do you have for other nonprofits in your sector?
I can share what I tell myself, “Hang in there. It won’t always be like this.”