As we kick off 2018, we wanted to pause and reflect on the past year. 2017 was a year of unprecedented challenges, in the world around us and also for REACH as an agency. At the end of 2016, we tried to focus on healing and being a resource for safety in a time of uncertainty following a divisive election. We kicked off 2017 talking about transformation, and some of us joined colleagues from Jane Doe Inc. for Boston’s historic Women’s March. As rhetoric heated up around the issue of immigration, we affirmed our commitment to serving all survivors. We looked ahead to our spring training and heard from a police officer who explained how it had benefited her work. In February, we heard from REACH staff and teen program participants about the importance of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
In March, we reflected on healthy masculinity around White Ribbon Day and announced the co-chairs for the Reach for the Stars Gala. Throughout the spring and summer, we grappled with proposed changes to health care law at a national level, and potential implications for survivors. We also faced the challenge of how to best support immigrant survivors in an increasingly challenging climate. Our Annual Meeting in June highlighted our ongoing collaborations with law enforcement to strengthen the safety net for survivors.
At the same time, spring was an exciting time for us as we were able to announce our office move! Having the new location secured made this longtime dream a reality, and we were able to talk more about WHY we needed to move, and what it would take to make it happen. Our supporters stepped up, and we shared this journey together in a series of move updates. None of this kept us from holding our biggest Waltham Neighborhoods Fall Festival to date, in its 8th year!
When we finally did move, it was in October, one short week after the annual Reach for the Stars Gala (our most successful yet!) and in the midst of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Leading up to the Reach for the Stars Gala, we introduced you to a very special young artist, Alex, who created the survivor platter for this year’s auction as part of his art therapy at REACH.
Late in 2017 we also welcomed new staff members, including a new Director of Development and Youth Education Specialist. They came on board just in time for the gala, the move, and didn’t slow down as we dove right into Holiday Gift season!
It’s been a year of unprecedented challenges – at the national, state, local, and individual levels. We struggled to find the words to respond to things like racial violence in Charlottesville and far too many mass shootings. Any fatigue or apprehension we might be tempted to feel pales in comparison to what survivors face every day. They navigate dangerous situations, make seemingly impossible decisions, and are often disproportionately impacted by ‘natural’ disasters. It is their resilience, their courage in overcoming these overwhelming circumstances, that gives us hope. The fact that they, in all of their various intersecting identities, consider REACH their space, inspires us to keep going.
And all of you – our donors, volunteers, supporters, and partners – made this a historic year of ‘biggest yets.” The fall festival, the Reach for the Stars Gala, and the Holiday Gift Program all broke records this year, and none of it would have been possible without your help! You did all of that in the midst of helping us achieve the move and we are excited to see what the coming year holds, in this new space full of so much possibility.