Sometimes the tiniest tasks can have the biggest impact. And the most meaning.
Each time LUNA hires a new employee, I reach out with a warm welcome and share a little about LUNA from a personal perspective. I attempt to make them feel a little more comfortable and aware of what to expect on their first day and first week at LUNA.
In this introductory email I also request a picture of anyone and anything they consider family to post on our family wall. Some photos include immediate family members. Others include multiple generations or pets. Some include friends and loved ones who aren’t biologically related, but who are truly their family. There are no rules or limits. It’s simply a way LUNA tries to honor and celebrate a part of who and what makes each of our staff members feels cared for and loved.
I also aim to have their photo hung on the family wall before their first day in the office. It’s a simple task that takes just minutes, yet is incredibly welcoming and meaningful when a new staff member arrives on their first day and they already see their photo on the wall. The intention is for them to already feel embraced by and a part of LUNA from the very beginning.
The family wall is a sacred place in our office. It’s a place where we highlight why most of us are truly doing the hard work we do every day. Our staff is incredibly passionate about the communities we are serving and services we are providing, but at a deeper level it’s also about supporting our families and creating a joyful life. The family wall reminds us of one of the reasons we all come to work and work diligently every day.
The importance and value of our family wall was deeply branded onto my heart when one of my coworkers shared a beautiful story about connecting with her family in Venezuela. She fled to the US as an asylee just over a year ago and is sometimes unsure of when or how long she’ll be able to speak to her father due to the crisis and uncertainty in her home country. When they are able to connect, telephone service is spotty and their calls are dropped frequently.
Shortly after beginning work at LUNA, she was able to speak with her father on the phone while gazing at her picture on the family wall. As she told him about working and their picture on the wall, he assured her he wasn’t going to physically move one inch during the call in hopes of ensuring their call would not be lost. They both wanted to savor the moment of connection. Even though they were physically separated by thousands of miles, they were together in that moment. And with the family wall, he could in a sense be with her every day at work.
She simultaneously felt connected to her previous life in Venezuela and her new life at LUNA. She felt loved and cared for by both her biological family and her LUNA family. She was able to honor and celebrate the family she had to leave in order to ensure her safety and feel embraced and welcome by her family at LUNA.
Over ½ of LUNA’s staff are members of immigrant and refugee communities. Many of them are separated from their families by literally thousands of miles. They’ve come to the US sometimes fleeing frightening situations and often with not much more than what they could carry. Honoring their families in our office is just one small way we can also honor and celebrate their journeys.
And even for myself, as a white, cis-gender woman born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, it’s an opportunity and invitation from the company to share my family and the people who carry me through this world with my work family.
We all have journeys and stories to tell. And they are all valuable in their own unique way. The family wall is one small way we choose to honor and celebrate them at LUNA.