Wednesday morning, I woke up in a veil of grey. The fall equinox had begun, and the slow-rising sun and the quiet ticking of rain on my rooftop announced the annual transition that is a part of life in the Pacific Northwest. We are used to this shift, and for many of us, we welcome the change in seasons. The air is cooler, and the waning sunlight invites a cozy feeling evoked by flannel shirts, fuzzy socks, and a sense of proximity to one another that the fall season brings.
The notion of change was definitely on my mind as I began my day, and after grabbing a cup of coffee and some quality time with my canine officemate Blazer, I sat down at my desk and opened my email inbox. In it were the usual announcements that arrive in the darkness of night and a handful of messages from the early birds in my life. But there was something else amongst those emails, something that has become a noticeable pattern over the course of the last month or so; a note from a stranger in pain.
“Dear Kendall…do you guys provide assistance with rent, utilities, and food? I’m struggling so bad. I’m 5 months behind in rent and bills and don’t have much food in the house ever.. I’m afraid that once the eviction prevention thing is over, me and my 3 children will be evicted… I need help…Krystal”
This particular email took my breath away as the majority of my missives are received from the insulated universe of our membership. After I re-read Krystal’s short but palpable note, I quickly realized that this email is not just a representation of her suffering. It is bigger than that. This was the fourth email this week addressed to me personally, from someone who was running out of options. It took me by the shoulders and shook me into this thought: the weight of the past six months is heavy. I suspect that the reverberations of this triple-barreled crisis marks the beginning of a new season of transition and change. First, we faced the COVID-19 pandemic…followed by the spiraling effects of racial injustice and anti blackness punctuated by the blistering destruction of wildfires in communities across our region. We can’t ignore it…we have gone through something together.
It seems that we are now faced with two pathways: one allows a wave of difficulty to wash over us making individual survival our only goal; the other leverages our community strength, and is rooted in resilience and restoration.
This spring we made a decision to postpone our biennial conference. But now, after months of chaos and isolation, we feel the need to gather, if only virtually. We need to be in one another’s company. And we need to replenish ourselves as a community.
We will do a conference after all. It just seems right. And while it will be a new version of our biennial gatherings, you can count on GOSW to convene us intentionally, and with heart. So let’s do this. Krystal’s email and the notes and calls that you are certainly receiving about the impact of the last 6 months have inspired us to forge ahead, so please mark your calendars. We can’t wait to see you.
Grantmakers of Oregon and SW Washington
Restore: A Virtual Gathering of Philanthropy
October 28-29, 2020
Coming to a Zoom Room near you