UCAN proudly supports nine affinity groups for employees to meet and engage with colleagues who have similar interests and backgrounds. Staff works together to plan engaging activities that provide useful information and workshops for their colleagues. The affinity groups are also designed to help increase morale across the agency. For example, one affinity group focuses on Spiritual Formation, which is a component of UCAN’s core principles.
UCAN’s approach to spiritual formation is centered on building a stronger, more compassionate and nurturing environment that stimulates transformation, leadership, growth and stamina. The goal is to have each person increase their self-awareness, self-respect, self-care, satisfaction and service to others. Katrina Johnson, a support services coordinator in UCAN’s Professional Foster Parenting department, has experienced growth both personally and professionally through her participation in the Spiritual Formation group.
When Katrina joined the group more than a year ago, her first major role was facilitating a praise dance (a form of dance that expresses praises to God and is performed to spiritual music) workshop for UCAN’s Carnival of Caring. She taught a dance and explained the meaning behind it and the movements. Carnival of Caring was a day of workshops and activities for youth and families who are in UCAN’s network of support. Attendees received free health information and purchased items from local vendors.
Katrina works in collaboration with members of her affinity group to develop strategies that can be implemented to build a more nurturing environment for staff. “I love the way the meetings go. It is a very positive environment. It’s a good platform and I love being able to give something to help others.”
She explained how social services work can be challenging; therefore, it is important to continue to seek positive outlets.
“Look at everything going on with our youth. Being able to help them overcome some of their challenges and trauma by helping people connect with their spirit can help them. It is all about connecting with what you believe in to help you develop as a positive person and develop a good character. Your character comes out in spirit,” explained Katrina, who said the group does not impose any particular view on an individual but seeks to encourage individuals to use their beliefs to grow. “Just allow that belief to take you to a higher level so that you can relate, develop, grow and possibly impact someone’s life with your spirit,” she added.
Katrina has allowed her growth through the Spiritual Formation affinity group to be manifested in other areas of her life. Later this summer, she will visit the Bahamas to participate in an arts conference where she will offer praise dance instruction and spiritual guidance. She noted, “I’m expecting a life-changing event and great things for the people of the Bahamas and me as well.”