A new year, even a year that feels no different from the previous year, is an incredibly powerful time. It allows folks to pause, reflect, and dream. And when I sat down on Jan 1, 2021, and thought about my dreams for Open Communities, I returned to the same word: Resilience.
I moved our team into 2021 with eyes wide open. We have survived some of the most challenging times in recent history, and we actually grew our team as the demand increased more than 300%. Our team now includes a new housing counselor and a new fair housing outreach coordinator, and our board increased by two new members. We are moving forward.
I move forward with immense pride. I am enormously proud of the folks who work at Open Communities and honored to walk beside them through this work. We watched as team members got COVID, struggled to support children, and hold tight to whatever stability they could find. I felt like I was holding my breath as each day, week, and month passed, and we were still able to keep our doors open.
The real work is still ahead of us, as the nation looks to address the housing crisis hovering on the other side of the eviction moratoriums. Millions of families without homes. Thousands of vacant units. Generations of wealth accumulation wiped out. The trauma and collective grief our nation will experience are overwhelming to think through, yet I come back to our word: Resilience.
Our team is not superhuman. We have small kids at home while we counsel other families from becoming homeless. We have aging parents we have not seen yet we can spend hours with our older adult clients ensuring they can age in place. We have spent so much time in therapy. But we show up every single day. And we do that because you have shown up for us. Living the mission of Open Communities is not optional. It has never been, and right now, it feels even more important.
As I close my eyes and think about the (hopefully) warmish month of June and the end of our fiscal year, I hold tight to the vision of meetings in person. I will never take for granted the bad breath of a coworker sitting too close. I will embrace the evening board meetings sitting in a small hot room sharing snacks. I will scream extra loud when opening the mail to find a donation and a kind note. I know this is not forever. I know this too shall pass. And as we wait for the warmth of healthier months and happier times, I know our resilience will carry us - because we have each other. We have you.