A special message from Nadine Sookermany, Executive Director of Fife House Foundation.
Thank you for your incredible, overextended yet never ending commitment to our work in the housing and homelessness sector, specifically for those living with HIV/AIDS.
I have been thinking about what I could possibly say after the year we have had – and a couple of weeks ago, I felt like we were finally able to take a breath and look forward to 2022 with a positive, more hopeful, perspective (and then there was Omicron).
So instead of crafting a carefully balanced message on my own I am sharing an excerpt of an incredible blog that I read voraciously that truly sums up how many of us are feeling right now. I really couldn’t say it better myself so wanted to share their words with you as they resonated with me:
‘On top of our personal challenges, our sector has been dealing with funding shortage and various other issues, and there has been the generalized anxiety from the relentless cruelty and injustice in the world. I know very few people who have not had a shitty year. (If that’s you, that’s wonderful. Please don’t feel any guilt; it’s good for us all to know that some folks are doing OK).
I bring all this up because as I reflect on 2021, I am deeply appreciative of our sector and our community. I know I spend a lot of the year ranting about everything that’s wrong with our sector, but I am also truly grateful for the people in it. In the midst of everything we’ve been dealing with, we still managed to be there for one another and for people who need us. Nonprofits still ran vital programs and services. Orgs and individuals sponsored and supported refugee families. A colleague collected money to buy shoes for neighbors experiencing homelessness. Another made dinners and provided a warm and safe few hours to hungry and neglected kids. The community pooled funds for my friend who had her catalytic converter stolen. Even as our “surge capacity” was depleted, we still set aside time and energy to help and bring hope to so many.
However, all of us have been so focused on survival, on keeping it together so we could be there for those who need us, that we’ve sometimes neglected our own needs. Because so many other people are in crisis in our communities, and our sector’s job is to help lessen the suffering, many of us haven’t carved out much time to rest and to process. Or to mourn and grieve for what we’ve lost personally and collectively. I don’t think the weight of everything has really hit us.
This year has been rough. Things are not what they used to be. They haven’t been for a very long time, and they likely will never be again. What remains unchanged, and what gives me hope, is our unwavering vision of a just and inclusive world, and our resolve to make it happen despite the tides of inequity. This vision is not possible without you, all that you do, and all that you are.’
Take a deep breath and give yourselves space to grieve this past year, reflect on our collective learnings and experiences and take those learnings into the new year – and remember, there is no timeline on when this needs to be done.
Do it in your own time.
In solidarity, always.