To the Editor:

Like many of you, we have experienced strong feelings over the past several days and have tried to collect our thoughts. With so many raw emotions and demonstrations from coast-to-coast, we acknowledged the true narrative of these events - that there are stark disparities and inequities among the people of our country. It is after much reflection, we would like to share our perspective with you.

The recent events that have transpired as a result of George Floyd’s death have been an attack on humanity. Despite still being in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic, we have all seen a nationwide groundswell protesting pervasive racism, injustice, and multi-generational inequities. We have heard about the racism and the inequalities in our communities, but to bear witness to a police officer who has total disregard for a human life should cause all of us to pause and consider the collective reality - not just our own.

These times are incredibly divisive. Those belonging to socioeconomically disenfranchised communities have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, arguably based on circumstances and determinants beyond their control. In response to recent events, news networks have also seemingly furthered politically polarizing agendas by focusing on either peaceful protests at formal demonstrations or anarchists who are looting and destroying property. As a community, we must not lose sight of the systemic problems that brought us here. We sincerely hope that this point in time can serve as a catalyst for meaningful action where we can all listen mindfully to better understand one another, instead of either listening to simply respond or standing steadfast and tone deaf.

For us to take an honest look at our Valley, our Connecticut, and our country, we must all look in the mirror. Are we doing all that we can do to treat each other fairly, equitably and with kindness? Are we raising our children and grandchildren to show respect to others and to treat everyone as they would want to be treated? If you witness someone being mistreated, are you as outraged as if it was your friend, your child or parent? We can learn and relearn the effects of our biases. We can listen, and learn from one another of the failings of some of our systems and help to change them.

During times of crisis, we often find ourselves talking about making it through these events with the goal of returning back to the way things were. The message has never been clearer, we need to question whether that place is worth going back to, and, more importantly, how we can move forward, together, towards something new. As such, we would encourage you to read this memo from Kathleen Enright, CEO of the Council on Foundations.

VCF strives to work equitably as a connector, convener, and community investor. With certainty, this is a turning point for our country and, please know that our door is always open. This year has undoubtedly brought many questions - most of which are incredibly complex. In order to move forward and create change, we first need to take responsibility for our homes, neighborhoods, communities, and our Valley. While we may not have the answers, it is our shared opportunity to find the solutions together.

Donald Smith, Jr.

Board Chair

Valley Community Foundation

James Hodge, Jr.

Governance Committee Chair

Valley Community Foundation

Sharon Closius

President & CEO

Valley Community Foundation