The New Year's Resolution of a Restoring Family Links Caseworker

Story by Jon Dillon, Casework and Outreach Association, Washington, DC

The beginning of each year is often set aside as a time of reflection and planning for the future. The holiday feasts and festivities are recalled with joy while, simultaneously, assessments are made on waistlines and habits that should be changed in the coming year. And so resolutions are made, some in earnest and some not so much, to make the future better, physically, mentally, spiritually, and otherwise.

So, I too, set about making my resolutions. Cook more, eat out less. Actually use the gym that is literally one floor below my apartment. Read more, play less video games. And while these may be standard, run-of-the-mill resolutions, I’m also resolving to do something inspired by what I do for work – to talk to my family more often.

Every day of the week, I have the pleasure and opportunity to reconnect loved ones separated by conflict, disaster, migration, and other humanitarian emergencies. Family connection is vital to a person’s well-being. I have a co-worker who frequently says that in times of crisis, a person needs five things: food, water, shelter, access to medical services, and family; and having the last piece of the puzzle often helps secure the first four.

While I have never experienced (and hope to continue the trend of not experiencing) a crisis that severs my ability to communicate with my family, I can imagine the pain and suffering that this separation causes. I am extremely fortunate to have the means and ability to talk daily with my family whether by email, text, or phone. Yet despite my frequent interaction with those who do not know the whereabouts or well-being of their loved ones and the hyper-connectivity available to me in US, I must admit that my record of staying in touch with my own family is abysmal.

So this is my “number one” resolution: to talk with the members of my family on a weekly basis (this may still seem infrequent to some people, but like I said, the current rate is abysmal). I shouldn't rely on holidays, family celebrations, and the thankfully few and far-between life crises to be the catalyst for when I talk to my parents and sisters. Rather I’m dedicating myself to taking advantage of the opportunity that I have to stay in-touch with my loved ones and support my own well-being by knowing theirs.

I feel incredibly fortunate to do work that inspires a New Year’s resolution. As I work at maintaining communication with my own family in the coming year, I look forward to all the family reconnections the Red Cross will make possible and sharing these stories with all of you.