As printed in Jan. 7 edition of the Hunterdon Review
Cliché as the saying has become: 2020 was indeed a “year like no other.” It was a year filled with contrast - experiences, news, and images that forced us to grieve our losses, question our history, and doubt our leaders, while also inspiring our thirst for truth, faith in humanity, and hope for the future.
We watched (or personally endured) the destruction of life brought on by a global pandemic but also witnessed the courage, compassion and commitment of our healthcare providers and frontline workers in responding to the unknown. We watched black men and women continue to fall victim to racial injustice as we opened our hearts and minds to listen, learn, understand, and peacefully act in solidarity. We were forced to stay at home, mask up, and even quarantine but also found new ways to work, connect and enrich the lives of others. We experienced or anticipated job loss, business closures and economic uncertainty, and then we gave generously to support others in crisis.
In my role as a volunteer with and trustee of United Way of Hunterdon County, I often have the privilege of witnessing the generous response of our community to the needs of its people, its businesses, and the charitable organizations that support them. While the health and economic crisis unfolded and the need for support grew, our community’s response to that need was bountiful. When I reflect on the year, this is what I remember most:
- Neighbors feeding neighbors through our local food pantries.
- Neighbors providing emergency rent and utility assistance through donations to United Way’s ALICE Recovery Fund.
- Neighbors keeping the spirits up of our healthcare providers and frontline workers through gifts of meals, notes of thanks, and acts of kindness.
- Neighbors ensuring hundreds of Hunterdon County school children had the supplies to safely return to a different kind of school year through United Way’s Tools 4 School program.
- Neighbors keeping our small local businesses afloat through takeout orders, gift card purchases, generous tips, and patronage.
- Neighbors helping to keep our local non-profits solvent and focused on the vital services they provide to our community through end-of-year donations and support of #HunterdonStrong.
- Neighbors brightening the holidays and giving the gift of hope to over 2700 children and adults through United Way’s Holiday Hands.
Neighbors – you - gave not only of your treasure, but of your precious time and talent, working hours on end in masks to ensure the needs of this community were met.
My involvement with United Way also reminds me that we are all experiencing the difficulties brought on by this pandemic; however, and with the risk of using one more cliché, we aren’t all in the same boat. Those who have been kept afloat because of the ability and generosity of others who are more fortunate expressed their gratitude in so many ways – thank you notes and videos, shouts of joy from little ones, and from one Holiday Hands recipient, homemade quiche to feed the hard-working volunteers making the program a reality.
So, as we usher in an eagerly anticipated new year with hope for health, economic stability, social justice, unity, and a return to gathering with family and friends, I have no doubt this community will continue to make 2021 a year of recovery, reimagining, and rebuilding.
Thank you for all you do.
President, Board of Trustees
United Way of Hunterdon County