Finding the light in the final moments of 2020

by Jennifer Tolle Whiteside

My husband asked me recently why I have been so cheerful the last several weeks, with so much going on in our world. It gave me a moment of pause.

Why have I been so cheerful? There have certainly been plenty of challenges, loneliness, stress and illness. There has been injustice, fear and so much unknown – the list goes on.

There has been tremendous worry and concern for others – neighbors we know and many we don’t  – impacted by the pandemic and injustice.

I have been walking a lot. Not just due to the necessity of walking our three dogs, but walking to clear my head, stretch, be outside and feel the air and to connect with something bigger than the four walls of my home. Walking has been my salvation. When I walk, I find my optimism about today and tomorrow.

So, as we head into the final weeks of 2020, my hope for us all is that each person finds what rejuvenates and soothes them.  We all need a place to find peace from the stresses that have worked to divide us this year. I hope we all find places to reconnect with gratitude and optimism.

We have so very much to be grateful for.

Through all the trials of the year, we have witnessed the generosity of both resources and spirit of our team, boards, fundholders and partners.

We have seen firsthand how remarkably resourceful our nonprofit partners are – especially in moments of crisis. I’ve seen every day just how creative and flexible our team has been in working to ensure we continued our mission despite evolving challenges.

Thanks to generous North Carolinians from across our great state, we’ve been honored to administer a record number of grants, both in terms of dollars awarded and the sheer number of grant awards being made. Likewise, we have seen a record number of scholarship recipients.

Throughout it all, we’ve been inspired by the action of our fundholders who have stepped up with generosity and passion for our communities. Donors have directly responded both to the pandemic and to the underlying social inequities our current crisis only further exposed.

When we look back on 2020, we will undoubtably remember the pandemic, but we should also remember how we came together to address challenges in this time of crisis. I’m grateful for resiliency, generosity and a wiliness to put others first, even in the hardest times. I hope you find rejuvenation as we head into the new year and can look to the light in our communities.

Onward to 2021.

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