FEMA Headquarters -- Return to Work (Sorta)

Start Date: 2022-03-03

Description: This week is the Federal government's Return to Work week. After two years of COVID quarantine/virtual working/etc. Monday we supported the U.S. Secret Service, where they "celebrated" employees returning. Gift bags, gathering in the lobby, etc. We then walked every floor, every hall, every office, to personally welcome every employee back to their office. Meanwhile, Federal Emergency Management Agency, asked that we be there all five days this week. And while they also "featured" the "theme" of "Return to Work", it really was not that much different than it has been. Some employees explained to us that they only have to be in their office two days a two week pay period. Any two days. They pick what two days. And while perhaps the international events of the day prohibited us from doing "support" visiting in their offices, we had to battle with the Government Services Agency, who controls the building FEMA is in. They wouldn't even allow our, nor any, dogs in their building. Mandating that we leave their premises, and come no closer than the outside of their building, in the extreme cold, out on the street! As FEMA employees stated, they would have no idea we were anything other than some people with their dogs, had we been vanquished to the outside. Monday, our two teams and team leader, held up way up the walk way into the attached hotel, and we were told that most people didn't knew who they were or why they were there. Tuesday we arrived, and were told to leave the building. FEMA said that they were not involved, and back away. The building management, representing GSA, said that no dogs could be in the building (other than service animals). By this time, several FEMA employees figured out that we were there, came down, and were on the floor interacting with our dogs. I asked the representative of the management company if he saw that? He walked over to the attached hotel, and got them to allow us to be on their property. Pretty much the same thing. Since being any closer to the FEMA security area, would have blocked their visibility, and they would have asked us to move. We set up on the floor (very cold marble), and as people came by and interacted, we request they go back to their offices and spread the word that we were there. We later heard that we were featured in many ways around their offices. We had been asked to support FEMA, but then we couldn't get into their building. We had been invited to support them for a week. None of the days were that much different than any other day, for them. Much less a whole week. Sure, everyone would love to have a dog around. We did do our best to turn lemons into lemonade. I had been told that what ever issue was causing the problem had been resolved. Although world events were probably preventing us from going into the FEMA offices. But today, when I thanked the representative of the management company for connecting us to the attached hotel, he told me that there has been no resolution, and except for the hotel's permission, our dogs are not allowed on the GSA property, and therefore, could not support FEMA if they were to call us in.

Agency: FEMA Headquarters
Teams: Shellie Goldstein & Emma / Cece Peterson & Hamish