As Chair of the Board at Morningstar Relief Mission my takeaway from 2020 will be the other, more hopeful side of the 2020 story. It is the story of how an organization like ours met a community in crisis with love and compassion and was a great source of comfort to so many.
At the beginning of the year, I was like a lot of people who tend to think that when crises arise, our elected officials are going to be the ones to make things right, to make life better. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate what our municipal and other leaders accomplish every day. It’s just that 2020 will forever remind me of the making-things-better power of a different type of leader, the community leaders and volunteers that many of us take for granted.
I had the privilege of seeing so many of these people in action this year. At Morningstar, our volunteer leaders come in all ages and sizes, and from many different types of backgrounds. Whether they give two hours a week or twenty they all have one thing in common: they never give up, they get down to business, get their hands dirty, and share a willingness to selflessly give their time and energy to folks that need help.
I wish I could have written down every name and every act of love and service I witnessed. But I will never forget this year and these people: they are our friends, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, kids, students, co-workers, and neighbors. I’ll have to wait until COVID-19 is over to hug these people but for now, I can tell them how much I love and appreciate them and assure them that they have made a difference.
COVID-19 has been scary, it has made life complicated and raised everyone’s anxiety levels. But it has also transformed our community into a true neighbourhood. At Morningstar, when we think about the community we serve, imaginary boundaries have vanished. Everyone, no matter where they live, is now our neighbour. Someone has a need in Kaladar, Tamworth, Northbrook, Bath, we say yes; we’re on our way!
Robert Downey Jr. once said, “People rise out of the ashes, because they are invested in the possibility of triumph over seemingly impossible odds.” At Morningstar we have done what seemed impossible eight months ago. But with incredible partners, the world’s greatest volunteers, and dedicated leadership from our staff we triumphed. We now serve 1,300 meals per week countywide, we served 600 Christmas dinners, delivered app. 275 personalized Christmas baskets, and did our largest-ever winter clothing drive.
I know I speak for the whole Board and so many in our community when I give thanks for Morningstar’s Executive Director, Kevin Alkenbrack. He continues to amaze and inspire me and others: he is deeply empathetic to the struggles, doubts and vulnerabilities of people who suffer in our community and never wavers from wanting to help meet their needs. Kevin has made me that much more invested and committed to this organization and to our community. Thank you for your leadership, Kevin: you are loved, and we are blessed to have you.
I am not a financial genius or fundraising wizard. I have a good understanding of not-for-profits and the investments people make in the charities that mean something to them. Typically, the investments grow a little every year. When I look at what our donor community has done for Morningstar over the past year, I am blown away by the outpouring of generosity.
We have a lot of work to do this year—the end of this pandemic is not yet in view—but the good news is that, thanks to our faithful supporters, we have the resources to continue to respond, generously, to a community in crisis. Please be assured: we treasure the trust you have placed in us and will continue to be faithful stewards of your investment.
If I had to come up with two words to describe my outlook for 2021, I would choose excitement and hope. I am excited about the opportunity to deepen relationships with volunteers, staff and donors. And I am hopeful about doing my part, as Board Chair, to help renew the energy and enthusiasm of all of those who will help Morningstar continue to shine brightly into 2021 and beyond.