Each Challenge as it Comes
As I write to you today, our region is still surrounded by flames that are becoming all too familiar as we face climate change. Too many of our neighbors are struggling to pay the rent, feed their families, and keep themselves healthy in the midst of this pandemic. Children are forced behind screens to access their education (at least those who have access to wifi and screens). And all of this is set against a backdrop of a national reckoning with our legacy of racial injustice. While it could be easy to despair when facing our current reality, I am inspired and energized by the work we are doing collectively. The challenges keep coming, and we are compelled to, once again, rally our collective strength to show up for each other.
The full impact of these wildfires is hard to measure in the moment. It is only after the blazes are under control that we will be able to assess the damage and loss. Until then, we are preparing to approve grants to pooled funds and to grantees who are providing direct services to impacted communities.
Like 2020’s other challenges before them, these wildfires are having a disproportionate impact on those in our community who are least likely to have the means to weather these crises. Each new afront to these essential and vulnerable members of our communities is another call to action, another call for change. As we all try to look ahead to recovery, even as we are meeting the urgent needs of today, we must include equity as our central focus. There will be no true recovery without inclusion at its core.
I am so grateful to have been able to step in and serve in this interim role for the past 15 months, which has proven to be an historic time that has tested us all as a community, an institution, and as individuals. As we enter what feels like a next critical stage both in our approach to the current and expanding local crises and to our long-term strategies, we have been thrilled to have our new President Sandy Herz officially onboard. Sandy has spent her first few weeks working closely with our family, board, and staff, getting to know the team, learning about our work and beginning to plan her approach to engaging with each of you moving forward. We are deeply grateful for her partnership and perspective, and we look forward to sharing her with you over the coming months (and beyond).
Lisa Sobrato Sonsini
Board President & Trustee