We are the helpers.
To our friends, colleagues, and members of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network:
For many of us working in social justice and social change, the outcome of this election was not just a surprise but a tremendous disappointment. My social media feeds and my conversations IRL all seem to revolve around one question: Where do we go from here?
I think the answer is that we go where we have always gone: toward a more just and equitable world.
At this year’s National Conference, I shared one of my favorite quotes from Mr. Rogers:
YNPN is, at its most basic, a network of helpers. Every day we sit down at our desks or go out into the field and help try to bend the long arc of the moral universe a little closer to justice.
It would be disingenuous to pretend that nothing has changed or that this work hasn’t been made more difficult by the outcome of this election, both in terms of the structural barriers it creates and the impact it has on our spirits. Even on the best of days, this work requires us to draw on our depths of love, courage, compassion, and resilience—and this is not the best of days.
But I believe this is the time when our network becomes more critical than ever. The coming years will be a marathon, a sprint, and a relay race. Sometimes we will move quickly toward justice, and sometimes we will go slowly. As individuals, sometimes we will carry the baton, and sometimes we will need to be carried.
YNPN is the place where we can come to build and share our love, courage, compassion, and resilience. It is the place where we can cheer each other on as we race toward our vision of a better world. And it is the place we can come when we are exhausted and need to be carried for a spell.
There will be days when you have strength to share, and I ask you to share it. There will be days when you need strength, and I encourage you to take it until you’re restored. Our network is more than 50,000 people strong. Together we are powerful beyond measure. And a large part of that power comes from our ability to help each other through the successes and challenges of this work.
We likely have many challenges ahead. We at YNPN National are continually inspired by you and the work you do in your communities across the country. Today and always we want to reflect back to you the love, courage, compassion, and resilience you bring to this work. We step forward into an uncertain future, but we take this step together as 50,000 young leaders who are more committed than ever to building a more just and equitable world.
Jamie Smith is one of YNPN's Co-Executive Directors and was the organization's second full-time employee. On January 1, 2017, Jamie will become YNPN's sole Executive Director.