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FGIA just wrapped up its annual Holiday Staff Week, but this year, it looked a little bit different. Instead of celebrating with games and movies in the Schaumburg office, we gathered on Zoom to play remote BINGO and hold a gingerbread house decorating contest with prizes. Samantha Allen and I mailed boxes of supplies and tiny gifts to each staff member so they could participate. We met each morning for a “coffee or hot cocoa break” to share holiday stories of Christmases past and to compare notes on our favorite traditions. Even though it wasn’t what we typically do, doing these morning catch-ups was actually a great way to touch base as an entire organization, instead of a series of mini groups and side conversations like we usually do in person.

Another thing we missed was our annual volunteer opportunity during staff week. One of FGIA’s core values involves giving back to our local communities and supporting organizations whose missions we collectively support. One such organization is World Vision, the nonprofit FGIA partners with each fall for our annual Fall Conference Backpack Build. Instead of that in-person event, FGIA staff chose to participate in a remote 6K for Water to support World Vision. Staff sent in selfies of them in their race gear and fundraised money to go toward World Vision’s efforts to get clean water to those without easy access.

During the Summer Staff Week, staff members were encouraged to “adopt a neighbor” who might have some unmet needs during the pandemic. Some staff chose to bring a meal to someone in their neighborhood.

We look forward to seeing our members in person again at some point in 2021. In the meantime, we encourage our staff to continue FGIA’s spirit of giving back. Some organizations FGIA has supported in the past, in addition to World Vision, include Feed My Starving Children and the Greater Chicago Food Depository. At this time, giving to others is even more important than ever before.