No one could have predicted the year that we just endured. COVID-19 turned our world upside down. It changed the way we work, the way we play, and the way we interact in society. We’ve had to adapt to so much change in our lives that we’ve come to appreciate one of the few constants so much more – family. For me, family was already the focal point of my life. My wife Caasi and I had our first kid just six months before the initial shelter-in-place order in March 2020, so we were still deep in the throes of new parent exhaustion when we were forced to isolate from the rest of the world, losing our support system and quickly becoming each other’s sole source of relief from the stresses of everyday life. It was an unexpected challenge that pushed us to our limits, but through it all, we formed an invaluable connection. With all the time spent at home, my relationship with my son also became stronger and I’m so grateful for the bond that we created, as it’s helped me cope with limited social engagement, struggling friendships, and minimal time spent with my WAM family over this past year.
I’d never say that I took my WAM family for granted prior to COVID, as it’s the main reason that I chose to spend my career with Western Allied, but I’ve definitely discovered a newfound appreciation for all that it brings to my life. We spend so much of our time at work, around our coworkers, that we become dependent on those relationships to help carry us through the daily stresses of our jobs. Being forced to work remotely and maintain social distance, relying primarily on phone calls, video conferencing, and awkward masked encounters to interact, we’ve lost touch with many of the close connections that we’ve formed throughout our organization over the years. This separation from one another has been especially hard given the amazing group of people we have at Western Allied, but it’s that same greatness that helped us endure the struggles of 2020, and I’ve never been prouder of our company.
While we may have defined our core values a couple of years ago, it wasn’t until we were faced with this recent adversity that we fully embraced them. Examples of innovation, care, and teamwork are now rampant throughout our organization, both in the office and in the field, and they’ve become ingrained in our WAM DNA. While innovation and teamwork have been instrumental to our success over the past year, it’s the care that we have for each other that’s shone the brightest. Our safety culture at Western Allied, led by LeeRoy and the executive safety committee, is rooted in care; these leaders put our employees’ health and well-being above all else, even risking their own at times to ensure we’re well taken care of. LeeRoy has spent countless hours in the field, traveling from job site to job site, helping to combat the potential spread of COVID by performing rapid testing and implementing measures to keep our crews safe. He has extended himself far beyond the normal call of duty, day after day epitomizing the care within our culture that we promote and value so greatly. I think I speak on behalf of all of our employees when I say “THANK YOU” to LeeRoy and all those that have helped steer us through this dark time with a keen focus on our safety.
This is just one of many ways our WAM family illustrates how deeply we’ve remained grounded in care throughout these COVID times. Our field staff straps on their boots every day, logging a record number of hours despite all the hurdles, to handle our clients’ needs and keep the business going strong. Our HR manager endlessly researches the latest benefits to ensure employees and their families are well taken of. We’ve held a number of MS Teams events to engage and connect with our peers, such as a gingerbread house competition, a cooking class, group happy hours, a SIP hair competition, all-hands meetings, and more. Crewmembers sacrifice hours for the benefit of their teammates and office employees donate their PTO to support coworkers in need. In lieu of client gifts, we made contributions to several local charities during the holidays. The ways in which we demonstrate our care for one another and for the community at large are countless, and it’s the reason why WAM perseveres through the toughest of experiences.
I’ll welcome the day that we can come together again under one roof, remove our masks, and continue this incredible journey side by side. Until then, I’ll remain motivated by your strength and inspired by your stories. After all, you’re family, and family is everything.