Looking back to where we were this time last year, ProsperityME had good reason to set big goals for 2020.
We had doubled our staff, expanded our programs, and the economy was strong. There was opportunity for immigrants in Maine and we were excited to help bring that opportunity to the community. In our Holiday 2019 newsletter we wrote:
“In 2020, ProsperityME will enact a 3 year plan to expand our programs into central Maine, reaching members of the immigrant community who may not have had access to our educational courses before and revitalize central Maine communities in the process.”
However, 2020 had different ideas.
Instead of the steady, linear growth we anticipated, 2020 challenged us to adapt to circumstance, and to grow in ways we could not have foreseen 12 months ago.
2020 asked us to put our plans on “pause” and re-evaluate them in a new context; a once-a-century pandemic that affected Maine’s immigrant community at three times the rate of the white and American-born; a context where the economic disparities between immigrants of color and American-born, white Mainers had become a public health crisis; a context where America’s colonial past continued to impact us, and consequently our work, centuries later, no matter how much we might have wanted to move beyond it.
As we close out 2020 - mentally preparing to ring in a new year without the physical presence of our families and friends – we mourn the year that was not. However, we can also choose to cultivate gratitude for the year we DID have. It was a year of learning and of expansion in unexpected directions.
We learned how to use technology to connect with our friends and neighbors, and how critical technological literacy is in accessing economic opportunity. We moved all our classes successfully to Zoom, implementing new service models that could open our area of service statewide much faster than we originally anticipated.
With so many small businesses struggling, we learned that immigrant-owned small businesses really ARE the backbone of the “main street” economy. We’ll be undertaking a significant research project in 2021 to deeply understand the needs of immigrant-owned small businesses so they can thrive post-pandemic.
We learned that diversity, equity, and inclusion are more than ideals and we can take concrete action towards their realization. We revised our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) strategy, centering our community at every level of the organization. In 2021, we will work with our network of partners to bring economic opportunity to immigrants living all over Maine.
We learned that our voices matter, and that when we stand together as a community, we can learn from one another and accomplish much. With a lot of listening and a little compassion, many differences can be overcome.
And finally, we learned how much faith our donors, our corporate sponsors, our volunteers, and our immigrant community have in us and in the value of our work. Thank you for your steadfast support in 2020. Our gratitude is beyond words.
December, in many traditions, is a time where light is brought into the home to dispel the darkness of winter. This sense of gratitude for the community we have - immigrants and American born alike - is our light in the “darkness” that was 2020.
Thank you for your support. Our best wishes for the good health to you and your family this holiday season.
- The Prosperity ME Team