It started off as a late-night post in a social media group created to spread positive news. An Afghan evacuee family of 13 would soon be arriving in Newburyport and temporarily housed at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on High Street. In a matter of hours, dozens of offers of beds, winter coats, towels, sheets and more popped up in the comments. Within days, volunteers had converted church classroom and meeting space into a warm, inviting apartment for the family to call home.

“It is a privilege to offer support for these families in such a crucial way,” St. Paul’s rector, the Rev. Dr. Jarred Mercer, told the Daily News in early December.

During this season of giving, this story of community collaboration should be celebrated. But more importantly, we should hold it up as a powerful example of how we can all play a role in creating positive change in our communities – if we work together.

Every day, we are presented with opportunities big and small to lift up the people that surround us – family members, friends, neighbors and perfect strangers, whose stories touch us because our commonalities – our humanity – is greater than any differences that set us apart.

It is in fact a privilege to be here for each other.

At Essex County Community Foundation, we believe wholeheartedly in the power of collaboration, that our potential to thrive is elevated when we leverage our individual strengths to tackle challenges together. This notion is behind nearly everything we do at the foundation, and it is the bedrock of Essex County’s collective success. Like the many hands that came together to make a church a home in Newburyport, ECCF relies on countless individuals to contribute – time, talent or treasure – to moving Essex County forward. and we are so grateful for this growing community of people who continue to seek out ways to help collectively create positive change and possibility.

‘Together’ is how we’ve set a plan in motion to close the digital divide. It’s how we’re working to advance critical changes to our food security and behavioral health systems, so they become more effective for the people they serve. ‘Together’ is how we’re developing pathways to financial security and economic sustainability. and ‘together’ is how we’re making a real impact in peoples’ lives.

During this giving season, and as we look ahead to a brand-new year, we urge everyone to think about this power of ‘together’ and how it can be applied within the walls of your own home, in your neighborhood, throughout your community and across the region. We believe this power is the foundation for the future we want to see for ourselves, our children, grandchildren and for generations to come. and we all have a role to play.

As you gather with family to celebrate the season, we encourage you to open up discussions about what it means to give of yourself, to one another and to others in your community. Talk about all the forms that giving can take and how joining forces in these endeavors can increase your impact and inspire others.

To fuel these important discussions, ECCF has curated a collection of resources designed to help you and your family get inspired, get involved and give back, including to organizations accepting donations for Afghan evacuees. Visit eccf.org/giving-season to learn more about year-end giving, or explore our site to find out about all the ways ECCF helps individuals and families provide long-term support for the causes they care about.

As the year comes to a close, and we reflect on all that has taken place over the last year, one of the most critical things we must take with us as we approach 2022 is this power of ‘together.’ It’s what has carried us through our most challenging times, and it’s what will enable us to create a future in which everyone thrives.

Stratton Lloyd is executive vice president and COO at Essex County Community Foundation. Michelle Xiarhos Curran is the foundation’s communications writer.

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