My ReACTion by Heather Peeler
Stronger Together: Today and in the Future
In 2020, Alexandrians came together like never before to support their neighbors who were hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. This outpouring of generosity and compassion is what makes Alexandria such a unique community. From donating to the Alexandria Resilience Fund, to volunteering, to dropping off groceries for a neighbor, Alexandrians gave back in large and small ways.
As a community foundation, ACT for Alexandria has a responsibility to assist those who are most vulnerable in our community and to help ensure they have the necessities of life: food, shelter, health care, and education. That is why last March we took immediate action and partnered with the City of Alexandria to launch a COVID response fund. And, thanks to your support and federal CARES Act funds provided by the City, ACT granted more than $5M to community organizations that addressed the emergency needs of our neighbors. These grants provided emergency financial assistance, food, rental assistance, educational supports, and more to thousands of Alexandrians.
The impact of the pandemic continues to be felt across our community, most acutely within communities of color. Due to COVID, life expectancy has declined for all Americans, but more so for people of color. African American men have lost 3 years of life expectancy compared to their white counterparts who lost less than a year. Food and housing insecurity have increased as unemployment – especially for individuals in the service sector – remains high. Black, indigenous and people of color are disproportionately on the financial edge.
As the vaccine becomes more widely available, there is a desire to return to normal. However, racial disparities in wealth, employment, health and education were prevalent prior to COVID and exasperated by the pandemic. As we consider the support our community needs now, what is our responsibility to also address the systemic issues that produce inequality? Is there a role we can play as a community foundation to address the near-term needs and the long-term root causes of poverty?
I hope you will join us on March 4 at 7pm to hear how the Alexandria Resilience Fund enabled nonprofits to help our neighbors navigate the pandemic. We will also discuss the next phase of the Alexandria Resilience Fund and the ways we can continue to work together to ensure that Alexandria is a place where everyone can thrive.