Updated: Jan 2
New Year’s Eve 2020 and we can finally slam the door on 2020 and enter a better, more hopeful 2021. I for one, say, Bring It On!
2020 will be remembered as a year like no other: The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated record levels of income, health care, and racial inequality further in American society. It exposed political, social and economic divisions and the failure of our government and our institutions to deal effectively with a health crisis. As we shelter in our homes tonight watching the traditional mirrored ball fall onto an empty Time’s Square we remember the gatherings we have missed, the lost year of travel, schooling, and social interactions , and mostly we remember the many that we have lost to the pandemic. The Covid-19 statistics are so scarily unreal, I can’t mention them.
Yet tonight, I will celebrate 2020 for a year that I will never forget for the greater good that I will always remember. Instead of staying locked in our homes doom scrolling youtube, bemoaning our misery, our Village was born. As Sun-Tzu said “In the midst of chaos, there is also an opportunity.” Without the pandemic, I wouldn’t have met Villagers who I now consider my best friends. Daily I am astounded by the level of giving, sharing and concern for others. I look forward to continuing this new found spirit into 2021 and beyond. An Americorps 2018 Volunteering in America Report found volunteering in America hit a record high. 77.34 million adults (30.3 percent) volunteered through an organization in 2018. (1) Yet, a New York Times article in November 2020 noted that although the demands on non-profits grew during the pandemic, volunteering fell due to the concerns of serving and meeting people during the pandemic. (2)
That was not us! We thrived in our volunteering during the pandemic. We provided a safe model to volunteer, and the volunteers found us!. Our network of makers, in the safety of our homes, allowed us to continually grow connected by our volunteer drivers. I look forward to 2021 and beyond for all of us who found our voices in volunteering this year and the knowledge that the spirit we created will stay and carry forward into a lifetime of sharing.
In Fareed Zakaria’s recently released book, “Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World”, Fareed relays,
"This is an opportunity, if we take it, to really go ahead and make some of the big changes that we all know we need."
What gives me hope for the future is the involvement and commitment of our youth. A 2019 CNN report showed Generation X - those born between 1966 and 1980 had the highest volunteer rate of any group: 36.4%. Millennials – those born in the 1980s and ‘90s – had a 6% increase in volunteer rates since 2016. (3). They are our future, and they are charged. Middle schoolers, high schoolers, college students and young adults are all involved in It Takes A Village. Our youth asked to help, to drive, to make. They saw the opportunity, and have run with it, to go forward and make a difference.
The caring, the compassion, the abilities and the drive of our families and our youth is what I am celebrating for our Village. This year, we did not wilt; we took charge! For the better good, we stepped up and carried forward. Do I look forward to a time when volunteer rates in America are even higher to reduce inequalities that have been laid bare during the pandemic? Yes that is what gives me hope for the future.
Along the way, we built a community to support, to share, and to care. We have all known for months, working in the village has been soothing, almost meditative. We had a secret elixir and we wanted to share it. Recently, I uncovered volunteering has a host of personal studied and proven side benefits! Cited from the “5 Ways of Giving is Good For You” in the Greater Good Magazine.
Giving makes us happy, boosts our self-esteem
Giving is good for our health and reduces stress
Giving promotes cooperation and social connection
Giving evokes gratitude
Giving is contagious (4)
For the many lives lost, the hardship on health care and essential workers and the economic and social hardships on society, I could never say that the pandemic was welcomed. But my dad always said, never look back, just forward - Your cup is always full. We have made the best out of a bad situation.
Thank you villagers, for embracing our village, your contagious generosity and the happiness that we end 2020 with today.
As I write this, I am overwhelmed, truly, with what we have achieved thus far. The numbers are unimaginable. But these are real. Hug a family member tonight, because we deserve it and I look forward to whatever 2021 will bring. I’m not in my home tonight by myself, I have 300 villagers by my side. This is the largest crowd of celebrants I have ever had on New Year’s Eve.
With respect and utmost love. Looking forward to seeing you in the new year!
75,035 Total Masks
37,639 Total Fabric Masks
30,996 refurbished N95
23,799 Total Face Shields
125 Protective Overalls
14,000 Latex Gloves
(4) 5 ways of giving is good for you Greater Good Magazine Jason Marsh and Jill Suttie Dec 13 2010: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/5_ways_giving_is_good_for_you