In the midst of these trying, exhausting days, it may seem jarring to engage in this annual tradition of reflecting upon our blessings and embracing (pandemic-altered) rituals celebrating our gratitude.
We have all suffered, to some degree, in the last eight months. Unemployment is high, and local businesses are struggling. Some of us have lost loved ones. Perhaps you are coping with feelings of isolation, sadness, or fear. It can be hard to find gratitude these days.
And yet, I have. Despite all the pandemic turmoil, here are a few things I have seen, again and again: Generosity. Leadership. New partnerships forged. Resilience. Creativity. Hope.
United Way of Thurston County has had the great privilege of working throughout this crisis - arm in arm - with our city and county leaders, churches, nonprofit partners, local businesses, and many generous supporters and volunteers. Together, we have coordinated our efforts to ensure that the thousands of people impacted by the pandemic have a network of supports to help them get through. Because of these partnerships, UWTC has been able to mobilize and rapidly distribute nearly $3 million to area nonprofits that provide essential services to our community's most vulnerable populations — including young families and seniors — ensuring they are well-resourced to be able to deliver these critical programs.
We have so many incredible leaders and organizations to be thankful for. The Community Foundation of South Puget Sound partnered with UWTC in early March to establish the Thurston County COVID-19 Response Fund. Senior Services of South Sound has ensured that thousands of seniors sheltering in their homes receive hot meals every week. They're getting groceries, prescriptions, and other support from volunteers who are checking in on them regularly. The Thurston County Food Bank has provided tens of thousands of people with nutritious food, as well as hygiene and household supplies, every week. Community Action Council of Lewis, Mason, and Thurston counties has been administering millions of dollars in emergency funds to make sure rent and utilities are paid for those who have needed it most. Local shelters have adapted to continue operating during the pandemic while taking significant measures to protect the health and safety of the people they serve. Child care advocates, educators, and youth support organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs and the YMCA support the children in our community and work to blunt the impacts of the many disruptions in their lives.
These are a handful of examples of heroic work in every corner of our community. We have many difficult days ahead of us. Knowing there is an army of helpers in this community gives me hope and is the source of my gratitude this season.
Brighter days will return. And we will be here for them.
Thank you, Thurston County. LIVE UNITED.