Submitted by Lori Manasse, PCC
ICF Metro DC Chapter

Food for Others provides food for those in need in Fairfax County, Virginia. Prior to COVID, they were providing roughly 1,800 meals weekly. At the height of COVID, this number rose to more than 4,000 meals weekly and has stabilized at roughly 3,000 meals per week.

The organization operates with a small core staff and hundreds of volunteers. At the height of COVID, most of those volunteers were unable to participate, putting a huge burden on a small staff. The ICF Metro DC Chapter began coaching the core leadership staff of five (later six) people in October 2020, through May 2021. By this time, staff were exhausted and some volunteers had returned to help.

Coaching gave leadership staff a chance to reflect and unpack what had happened, how they felt, what they had learned, and to think about forward steps. Initially, 47 hours of coaching were provided. Three of the six people we coached then contracted for additional hours with their coaches because they found the coaching so useful. 

Organizationally, coaching strengthened the working relationships among members of the leadership team and their ability to deal with the continuing stresses of feeding the hungry during COVID. Several gained increased understanding of and confidence in their leadership roles. There was a noticeable easing of tensions in the organization. At the organizational level, the coaching supported leadership to think through next steps for the organization. 

While only six people were coached, the potential impact of the coaching is in the thousands. After the coaching had concluded, there was a traumatic situation with one of the organization’s volunteers. The Executive Director contacted ICF Metro DC to arrange for additional coaching for key staff who were affected, because they had found the coaching to be so useful.

“We now work together as a unit rather than as separate individuals,” said one of the coachees.