A Look Back to 2020

At this time last year, one RAP member commented, “May 2020 be a year of clearer vision for all, seeing and seeking goodness in all and for all people.”  

 

And yet 2020 was the year no one saw coming.  By mid-March, we were thrust into a modern-day wilderness characterized by social distancing, financial ruin from prolonged unemployment, and the coronavirus everywhere we turned. Then, without the veil of the status quo shielding our vision, other perils were laid bare: racial injustice, the digital divide, extreme wealth disparity leading to the death of thousands unable to access medical care.

 

Yet, it is in the wilderness that innovation happens.

During the pandemic, RAP used hundreds of generous gifts of time, money, and other resources to provide:

  • $1500 in cash to help families buy their own food

  • $6250 in emergency rent relief for 6 families at risk for homelessness

  • $15,000 in emergency food and supplies, including 2200 lbs. of fresh produce, 1300 lbs. of meat and eggs, 1600 lbs. of dairy products, and 950 lbs. of non-perishable food

  • 15 cases of vitamins, paper products, hygiene and cleanings supplies

  • 250 prepared meals

  • 3 laptops

  • 2 bikes

  • 500 masks

To maximize out impact and expand out reach into the refugee community, we collaborated with five other New Jersey nonprofit organizations - Cornerstone Counseling, IRC (International Rescue Committee), Nourish America, One World One Love, and Westfield Fun Club - to help more than 500 people (about 125 families).

 

In 2020, RAP also used this time “in the wilderness” to develop in new directions:

  • Anti-discrimination committee: strategies include improving diversity among volunteers and engaging former refugee graduates of the RAP program to be volunteers and mentors to resettled newcomers.

 

  • All-virtual tutoring/ESL program: In collaboration with One World One Love, we offer individualized instruction to 15 resettled refugee students using 29 volunteer tutors, with plans to expand in the coming months.  We also provided five workstations to children who are in all-remote learning environments.

 

  • Comprehensive volunteer training program: promotes respect for diversity and educates RAP volunteers about expectations, power dynamics, culture, and issues relating to privacy and confidentiality (launch date January 5, 2021).

 

Yes, we are still “in the wilderness”, but Hope remains steadfast---delivered by people of compassion who support the mission of RAP.  Throughout all these trials, we remain true to our calling: to show love and welcome for all.

 

We thank you for your support, encouragement, and shared experiences, all of which fortify our work together. May you experience enduring hope in the coming year for the building of a new and better tomorrow.

 

The RAP Executive Board

Jill Segulin, Don Jones, Steve Wheatley, Rich Scannell, Malini Majumdar, Wendy Oldham, and Anne Goetz