Focusing on our health: Building community together

Friday, October 30, 2020

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. After the pandemic brought life as we know it to a grinding halt, and now as we’re all trying to get back into the swing of things, it has been hard to focus on anything, let alone our health and wellbeing. However, these Business Affairs employees have found a way to focus on their health first in a variety of different forms. 

Health encompasses our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Each one affects the other and also the people around us. Prioritizing health is an effective way to survive and thrive through this crisis, and is most effectively done with family, social group and in your community. Though it’s been more challenging through this time, a few UNC Charlotte employees have found creative ways to stay healthy and connected to each other and their community.

Derik Screen, financial services reporting analyst, had a similar situation of learning how to adjust to the new normal and redefine family life. Screen believes it’s given him a chance to be involved with his family at the highest level he’s experienced. 

“We decided that we would make the best of our time together by enjoying more activities outdoors,” said Screen. “We’ve been visiting state parks such as Crowders Mountain and Lake Norman State Park.”

Alicia Bartosch, assistant controller for compliance, has learned that mindfulness along with physical activity can refocus and recenter her, benefiting her and her family. 

“I have been walking two to three miles every morning to give me some quiet time,” said Bartosch. “It gives me space to think and time to plan my day before my husband and kids wake up. Plus, I’m getting in my extra steps.” 

While she also does physical activities with her family, like bike rides, soccer, and gymnastics, she’s also diversified her physical activity with Crossfit, walks and even Power Yoga Zoom sessions at UREC. Health touches us not only as individuals but those who surround us. In Bartosch’s situation, like many other employees, her focus on her own health encourages the health of her family and her UNC Charlotte community. 

For Sarah Ekis, human resources manager for EHRA NF administration and staff performance management, her greatest focus is on the community of women she supports, especially during this pandemic. Ekis runs a support group for women going through infertility, so she knows the stress and worry of programs and important procedures being canceled for many people when the lockdowns started. Ekis runs a support group through RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association. Ekis struggled with infertility for seven years before she got pregnant, and through RESOLVE, she’s been able to support other women going through similar situations. 

“With so much uncertainty about COVID-19 and giving birth, it was a stressful time for a lot of women,” said Ekis. “I also decided we needed to investigate other ways to connect and support each other. We started doing guest speakers and virtual social events as well.”

Building a healthy community can be tough when get-togethers aren’t as accessible as they used to be, but Ekis, along with Screen and Bartosch, find a way to make health a priority.

“Someone wise recently told me to take someone with you,” said Bartosch. “There is strength in numbers. Iron sharpens iron. So, encourage someone else, and help yourself in the process. You are worth it!”

Story: Jordan Estabrook

Editor's note: You can read the full interviews with Alicia Bartosch, Derik Screen and Sarah Ekis. Have a health story to share? Complete this Google Form.