This year, we saw just how many different looks a hero could don. It was the front-line workers in their masks and gloves, but it was also the average citizens who went out into the streets to take action for a cause they believed in. Heroes also turned up in soup kitchens, putting their community before themselves in this time of great need, and at polling places, making sure that no matter what, Americans could exercise their right to vote.
New York proved this year just how strong of a community it is, and reminded us why we’re proud to be New Yorkers. The accomplishments of this year should not only be celebrated, but serve as reminders of just how capable we all are of positive change when we come together.
Looking back on the most pertinent community efforts this year serves as a bright reminder and a promising indicator for the city as we move into the new year with hope for healing.
This year, we saw the country flood to the streets in the name of what’s right. In support of these demonstrations, Fuel the People set out to make sure that both protestors and blacked-owned businesses were nourished.
The work for the Black community didn’t just take place at protests. Pushing for a safer New York, The Communities United for Police Reform successfully campaigned for three acts at the state senate level. This win helps prove that New York is making strides to be a safer place for all of its BIPOC residents.
Social Justice is a cause that touches many communities of people in our city and beyond. The work is slated for continuation into the New Year. If you’re looking for a way you can get involved, Good Shepherd Services works across 100 different programs, all intended to support families in New York’s struggling neighborhoods.
This election year, leadership was more important than ever. The country was facing a particularly difficult time, so it was their one chance to pick someone to lead them through it.
Leaders on the community level were an integral part of the process. Several non-profits based here in NYC were active advocates for the people to get active this election season. Some notable accomplishments from the five boroughs include:
- The Brennan Center became a valuable resource this season for identifying voter fraud and spotting disinformation.
- LWV put women voters in the front lines to seek out other women and encourage them to vote, serving as a strong reminder of how important that right is.
- When We All Vote helped everyone keep on top of their right to vote by mail.
- VotoLatino had a very important quinceanera this year, and they celebrated through digital campaigns, programs, and authentic Latinx voices that urged the community to exercise their own right to vote.
Would you look at that? Yet another elephant in the room. This year, COVID was basically the backbone of all the most important causes. We are continuing to watch the repercussions of a socially-distanced society, and how it was able to strip away everything from people’s routines to people’s food. Luckily, we live in the great city of New York which didn’t turn it’s back on its people.
CityMeals made sure as many senior citizens in the city received nutritious food as possible
Speaking of seniors, Heights and Hills made it their mission to make sure to soothe some of the isolation through phoned-in connections.
NY Blood Center vans continue to park around the city. With so many people in hospitals, the dire need for blood continues (so perhaps, if you’re healthy, you can make donating a new year’s resolution).
Perhaps the one name that everyone can identify as a masked hero was Robin Hood. While this organization is committed to the city in the best of times, they upped the outcome during 2020, addressing everything from the economic divide to the over-policing of Black New Yorkers.
A Focus on Community
Putting community first is essential to the success of a diamond of a city like New York. To promote togetherness (while still social distancines) StreetLab readjusted its format to meet the community health need. They still made use of public space for homework and play, but also reimagined ways that New York can stick to social distancing. All of these efforts are incredibly important for feeling a social sense of community.
When it comes to hungry New Yorkers, CityHarvest is dedicated to getting meals to any and all neighbors in need. During the pandemic, they doubled their efforts to secure food and save waste, with a particular emphasis on feeding front line workers.
Food scarcity is a continuous issue in the community, making organizations like Invisible Hands Deliver not just altruistic, but necessary.
Similarly, CityMeals on Wheels expanded their focus to beyond meal delivery. Their COVID response was first and foremost to feed hungry seniors, but also to bring them some love.
Anyone who lives here knows that when you talk about New York, you are really referring to the multicultural communities interwoven to create the big apple. The city as a whole is only as strong as the sum of its parts, and organizations like Bed-Stuy Strong, Centro Corona Mutual Aid Network, and POTSBronx (to name a few) took action right outside their doors to make an impact on the larger scale.
The Work Continues
To have made it to the end of this calendar year is a triumph in itself. Without the help of each and every one of these heroic neighbors, the situation would look much different.
But to maintain the progress, people need to continue to volunteer. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on ways you can get involved.
Change starts with you. If you feel like you’re in need of a change in your life in the right direction, volunteer. It will give you a surprising gift of fulfillment and so much more.