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By Mark Peterson

I can’t be the only the one that is saying this to myself. Lately, I find myself saying it bit more often and sometimes when I utter these words, I feel triumphant and at other times I feel well, meh. I guess it is all part of what it feels like to be on what seems to be a never-ending cycle of the COVID conundrum we are mired in. Each of us has our own battles to wage and find ourselves facing some troubling times as we steel ourselves for the dark winter days ahead. But as the great Legolas said in J.R.R Tolkien’s the Return of the King, “Oft hope is born when all is forlorn.”

Resilience has been on my mind a lot lately and thinking of ways I can build it myself and also in my work. Upon some recent reading, I was reminded that resilience isn’t necessarily fixed and instead is much more like a muscle that we build. And there are ways we can help build it in each other. Working at Sustainable Connections provides me an opportunity to build my resilience. I get to hear the inspiring stories of so many individuals and businesses forging ahead in the face of long odds and also of individual helping each other. Kindness does exist in this world and I am constantly amazed at the people in our community working hard every day to show it.

Still here! Bed head, PJs and all!

A group of individuals that never ceases to amaze me are all the volunteers in our community. It is a fact the most any non-profit is forever indebted to the kindness and gift of time that volunteers give. Their contributions are even more of a precious now as many of these volunteers are exposing themselves to potential risks. I think of this often when our food recovery volunteers have chosen to be what amounts to be what is essentially a frontline worker. They have chosen to take a risk to help their community, to save precious edible food from going into a landfill and instead help reroute to those among us who are facing food insecurity. This is such a great example of resilience and their gift of time and kindness is immeasurable in value.

This is where I feel triumphant through the good deeds of our volunteers and exemplary performance of my coworkers. In a time of need where everything seems to be just that much harder, we have found a way to be successful beyond my wildest expectations. Along with our partners we have recovered and redistributed nearly 250,000 pounds of food, which equates to over 205,000 meals

The generosity and extra commitment by 77 different donors and 12 hunger relief organizations has a benefit well beyond nourishing our neighbors in need. There are very real environmental benefits that result from reducing food waste and all this work has kept over 130,000 Co2E from begin emitted from landfills and into our atmosphere and saved over 110 million gallons of water. Considering our goal and our funding was to recover and place 50,000 lbs. of food we have proved to be a flexible and resilient model for food recovery.

So, yes, I am still here, feeling a lot more triumphant after having written this even if I am still here at home and still here in my PJs. Still here is feeling pretty good right now and I hope this year end blog helps you feel a bit more resilient about still being here too!

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