One of the truths I’ve come to appreciate here at Real Change is how none of us succeeds on their own. In good times and bad, our communities offer us the strength and resiliency to survive in a sometimes hostile and unpredictable world.
I’m reminded of a true story that Real Change Board President Jim Lauinger told at our annual breakfast last year.
Jim was out fishing one morning, standing hip deep in a river, when he decided to cross to the other side. The water was cold and the current was strong, but Jim was dressed in waders and boots and crossing the river felt like a very small risk.
As Jim began to make his way across, whatever danger may have been involved was far from his mind. Even though he was alone, he’d crossed rivers before and thought himself prepared.
The water came up to waist level, and as he stepped deeper and farther out, rose to his chest.
That’s when an ordinary fishing trip became life-threatening. Jim had forgotten to tie off his waders. The cold water poured in. It filled his clothes and dangerously doubled his body weight.
The current near the center picked up speed, and there he was. In the center of the river, freezing cold, off balance and unsteady in the rushing current.
Jim found himself in a place where his margin for error had dropped to near zero. The river bottom was slick, and the pull of the water, once benign, had turned lethal. If Jim lost his footing, he might never get back up.
These are the conditions that, as the saying goes, concentrate the mind wonderfully.
Jim’s attention turned to the rocks he felt along the bottom. The points of support that offered relative safety and held when tested with his weight.
With his arms stretched out for balance and palms resting atop the current, Jim slowly shuffled across the rocky bottom, moving from one point of stability to the next.
In his time of potential crisis, those ordinary stones became the solid moorings upon which his life depended. Jim lived to tell the story, and he remembered those rocks and how essential they became.
I’m reminded of this now because the times we’re in, much like Jim’s river, have become uncertain and dangerous. And like Jim, we will make our way across.
One day, one week, one month, one year at a time, we’ll navigate treacherous currents and find sure footing across the rocks that anchor us.
Just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, Real Change asked our readers for the support we need to thrive and grow. More than 60 percent of our roughly $1.1 million annual budget comes from people like you, who support our vendors and value our work.
Our Winter Fund Drive goal was our largest ever. In seven weeks time, we needed $240,000 in community support to make budget and move into 2017 strong.
An amazing 730 of you did your part, each as you were able. Thanks to our remarkable readers, we surpassed our goal. This means we have the resources we need to expand our advocacy work and provide our vendors the support they need.
After 22 years, Real Change is a valued and growing community institution that provides opportunity and a voice to homeless and low-income people while taking action for economic, social and racial justice. You, our readers, are the solid rocks that will get us across the uncertain and troubled waters in which we find ourselves. We counted on you, and you were there for us. And we will continue to be there for you.
On behalf of the more than 700 vendors who find opportunity and community selling Real Change each year, I want each of you to know that we are grateful, every step of the way, to have your unfailing support.
Thank you. Standing together, leaning on each other, we’ll get through to the other side.