Trying to Move With the Times In Strange Times

Illustartion by Angelina Bambina
Illustration by Angelina Bambina.

A note from our Executive Director, Clare Butterfield:

Our initial response to the COVID-19 crisis was to offer flexibility. Candidly, we did not understand when we offered it just how fluid the situation would turn out to be, or how strange the next few months were going to get.

As we’ve gotten through our time sheltering at home, we’ve had the opportunity to check in with most of our grantees. We’ve heard from some of you that people in your organizations and networks were ill with the virus, and some, sadly, passed away from it. Those people are foremost in our thoughts. In the relative comfort of working from home, with everything we could need in a stressful time, we know that others are not so fortunate, and we hold them in our care.

Wondering how we might rise to the occasion ourselves, as a relatively small foundation, we have taken a few preliminary steps. Besides increasing flexibility about both purpose and reporting of grants already made, and shifting applications that were in process to general operating support where requested, we’ve made some additional contributions. We’ve donated to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund managed by the Chicago Community Trust and the United Way. We’ve also donated to an Education Equity Fund at the Chicago Community Trust, which is designed to address concerns about the learning losses and trauma our children are experiencing as a result of losing one-third of the school year.

We are living through history right now, and like everyone we have become much more aware of how little control any of us really have. We do not get to choose the time in which we live. We do get to choose what kind of people we want to be in that time. We are trying to notice more beauty in and around our homes, which we are lucky to have and lucky to see. We are trying to be unfailingly patient with the people with whom we share those homes, and failing that, we are trying to be forgiving of ourselves and others.

We are grateful for the way our community has found ways to be together in these very strange circumstances, and at the same time we will be happy if we never sit through another Zoom meeting for as long as we live.

In our way, we have tried to do our part to make this time better for others, knowing that it is a great privilege to be able to make decisions about that while so many are making decisions about unemployment insurance, the next rent payment, and where to get food. So we have made some initial contributions to the funds that will help those immediate survival needs, and we are continuing to talk with our grantees about the best ways forward. We are very glad to hear from any of you with your thoughts on what those are.

As much as we can be, from six feet away, we are with our community right now. And we are sending you heartfelt wishes for good health and for the time that we can see each other again face to face. Even if those faces have masks on them.