As you can imagine, my first year as Executive Director for Sherwood Forest was not all what I expected. Before even the first hint of spring, the world was turned upside down by a pandemic, the fabric of our society was further unraveled by civil unrest, and life as we knew it changed before our eyes. Despite all there has been to grieve this year, there have been moments of unity and light holding us together. At Sherwood Forest, I’ve witnessed the unflinching resolve of a team dedicated to the well-being of our community’s most vulnerable children. The “camp family” that I’ve learned about this past year is a real one for our kids and consistently ready to be a source of support and escape during this turbulent time.
While Sherwood Forest has been met with doubt and uncertainly throughout the past 7 months, I’ve been proud of the resilience we’ve demonstrated as an organization in both our programming and fundraising. There was never any other option but to pivot our plans entirely to meet the needs of kids. Blessed with present day technological advancements, our Blue Jean Ball went entirely virtual for the first time and proved we can create a community of giving in the homes of our supporters. Through impeccable planning and huge imaginations, we brought the spirit and fun of camp home for kids through Stay Camp this past summer. Now that they are embarking on a radically different looking school year, Sherwood Forest staff knew it was crucial to continue offering online engagement to kids, providing a socio-emotional lifeline and the familiar comfort of camp through our fall virtual programming.
Of course, at the forefront of our minds is the blatant racial inequality and racism that has always tarnished our society. At the core of Sherwood Forest’s mission is helping children of color in our community have equal opportunities in life so they can reach their full potential and feel valued in the world. But we can do more. This year, in an effort to live up to our own ideals, we’ve created a Racial Equality Taskforce to further develop our policies around equity and better serve our community. There are no lengths we won’t go to for the kids we serve and we are looking forward to focusing on this much needed work.
Sherwood Forest and the work we do would not be possible without those of you supporting our mission, especially in a year like 2020. As we look toward the future of camp and an eventual return to normalcy, the lessons we’ve learned will never be far from our minds. This experience has proved there is no challenge we cannot overcome if we work together.