Normally, at this time of year I would be writing to you about how was I inspired by caring Iowans during my annual cycling trip across Iowa, RAGBRAI, Des Moines Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. But we know this year is anything but normal, and the opportunity to ride across Iowa for the 25th time is just one of the many experiences planned for 2020 that will not unfold as it ordinarily would since RAGBRAI was cancelled like about every event scheduled.
While completing the ride was always the goal, the reasons that brought my husband, Mike, and I back each year encompassed so much more: connecting with friends, building memories, challenging the boundaries of what we thought possible, and opening ourselves up to the world to experience life a little bit differently.
We are all cycling through life like this right now. The idea of a completing a goal is entirely ambiguous, with the route still being defined as we ride along at differing speeds. As a goal-focused person, that’s difficult to accept, but I am hopeful facing this challenge for one key reason: we get to set new goals. We have been given the opportunity to re-examine measures of accomplishment and reset our expectations for what we want to accomplish together.
Over the last six months, we have learned a great deal about ourselves, our community’s needs, and most of all, that we are capable of so much more by working together. Some rays of hope I think are important to celebrate include:
- In record time, the reactivated Season of Sharing raised more than $2.7 million in just over a month, reinforcing this vital safety net to help our most vulnerable with basic needs.
- The same desire to come together as a community inspired an overwhelming response to the 2020 Giving Challenge, one that translated into $19.1 million in unrestricted funding to support 686 local nonprofits.
- Upon being awarded $1.30 million in scholarships, hundreds of students found themselves celebrating over surprise Zoom calls or taking selfies in front of hand-delivered plaques and yard signs.
- Complimenting all these responses were several long-standing grant opportunities that advanced causes such as health care, summer learning, and school readiness.
And yet, there is still a tremendous amount of opportunities to be discovered and work to undertake, especially to ensure access to the most basic needs of food and shelter. This has been made clear to us through a series of nonprofit recovery surveys, and key insights shared from grantees and community partners. Time and again we hear that innovation, collaboration, and connection are the ingredients for rebuilding. Each of us has a role to play in this recovery.
I want you to know no one is alone on this journey. This time will undoubtedly be a demanding and personal endeavor for each of us, but as long as we continue pedaling along and giving it our all together as one community, I am confident that the ambiguous finish line so eagerly awaiting our safe arrival will come into focus.
With continued hope,