What a year we have all had! 2020 will be a year seared in all of our memories. It’s been a year that has fundamentally challenged long-established certainties about what we think is safe and what we believe is healthy in all areas of our lives. Some people we’ve begun the year with are no longer here, and we now must find a way to press into the future without them.
What I am now calling the “pandemic perspective” has also brought so many changes and challenges to our working lives that were impossible to foresee at the start of the year. It has changed the world of work. LARRP’s member organizations, along with many organizations in the world, have had to adapt workplaces and practices to halt the spread of the virus. For many millions of workers, this has meant working from home. Many others have continued to carry out their jobs under extremely trying conditions.
As LARRP’s Co-Founder and Executive Director, I am so proud of the work done by our team and network during this year. Please take the time to look at the year-end review links below, because they highlight all that we have accomplished together. We know that for LARRP, the work has just begun, as 2021 will be the year we must put into practice the reforms we’ve fought for. We must continue working to make our communities safer, healthier and more sustainable for the benefit of all our citizens, including those returning from incarceration. It’s because of you that we are still standing and providing valuable services and resources to our community. I thank all the staff, interns, volunteers, members, partners and allies for their commitment and dedication in these unprecedented times.
Being a voice for those that cannot speak for themselves is at the core of LARRP's work. It’s in that shared commitment throughout the year, that we have continued our service. Let 2021 be the year that we give them their voices back and teach them how to advocate for themselves. Whether you created activities and events to keep our clients engaged or used technology and its platforms to connect with partners, stakeholders and users online, you contributed to our success.
Not only did we maintain our existing programs, but we added new ones. We also partnered with the community to facilitate Covid-19 testing events, food drives, voter registration and mobilized remote voter phone banks, and gave out millions in reentry stimulus funds.
We also participated in the census count and co-produced with LA County and Christ-Centered Ministries a “Stay Safer at Home” communication campaign. You guys are so amazing! We did all this while going through personal loss and our own fears about the future.
When I look to explain how we have managed to overcome the difficulties and even thrive in this most trying of years, I see a complex picture. Our business continuity planning, of course, played a big part. But I’d like to think that beyond that part of the explanation lies our organization’s people-centered culture. It has been said that “without a vision people cast off restraint,” but I always like to add, “and without the people, the vision will never come to pass.”
Since co-founding LARRP in 2011, I have been working towards establishing a culture of cooperative partnership within our network and community. This has not always been an easy sell. But if 2020 has shown us anything, it has shown us that a LARRP cooperative and collaborative culture has never been a more relevant goal than it is now. And not just for us here at work, but, as we look ahead, it's just as relevant for 2021 and beyond.
It is in this same spirit that we will double-down on our efforts with Californians for Safety and Justice’s “Time Done” Campaign to create more opportunities for our brothers and sisters returning home, as well as for the millions that are already home and unable to move forward in their lives. We know that we can only achieve safer communities, when all members of the community are treated equal. This year of the “pandemic perspective” has shown the promise of possibility that - by working together, whether onsite or remotely - we can achieve great things and continue fulfilling our mission.
I know that everyone will start 2021 tired. There is still uncertainty and the Zoom fatigue is very real. However, a new year must come with new energy. As leaders of justice reform, we need to realize that for many that energy can only come from us. We may still have to make hard choices and sharp pivots in the months ahead, but if we can articulate a year of possibilities and invite others to join our cause and to share their perspectives, we may find not just new energy, but new solutions, new opportunities, and exciting new directions. Now let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work!
With warm wishes,
All the best for 2021!
Rev. Troy F. Vaughn
Co-Founder and Executive Director