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2020 is drawing to a close… at last! It’s been a difficult year across the country and around the world. But here in the South Bronx, the challenges for many of our friends and neighbors have been especially harsh.

As the epicenter of New York City’s Covid-19 outbreak, our community suffered the highest infection rates and the worst death toll in the city. Unemployment skyrocketed. Food banks reported over a 200% increase in demand. And that’s only a snapshot.

I’ve been in the nonprofit world for years. The work has always been critically important for the people whose lives it touches. But this year, more than most, reminded me how vital nonprofit organizations can be in the worst of times.

As we near the finish line of 2020, hope for the end of the pandemic may be drawing into sight. But the South Bronx remains in crisis

Now, more than ever, it’s time to keep stepping up.

In our newsletter this month, you’ll read all about what Step Up for Better Living was able to do this year. We were able to award grants to organizations like Part of the Solution and BronxWorks. Almost 8,000 individuals were served at a series of pop-up food and resource distribution events. We helped fund the distribution of hygiene packets in CB9, and groceries to shelter families, veterans, and seniors. And for our Back-to-School supply drive we filled backpacks to help South Bronx kids succeed at school this year.

I’m so proud to have been a part of all that work this year. But when I think over 2020, I keep coming back to Leisy Morales.

Leisy had been relying on food pantries like BronxWorks — her favorite — for two years to help feed herself and her children. Then Covid-19 hit the Bronx. At BronxWorks, lines stretched around the block. Private donations dried up. And staff had no choice but to turn clients away after running out of food. So what did Leisy do? She rolled up her sleeves and got to work volunteering to help at BronxWorks.

That’s why I love the South Bronx — it’s full of folks like Leisy, who are willing to step up for our community. And it’s why I’m so grateful to you, and all our donors and supporters, for making it possible for us to step up for folks like Leisy Morales.

2020 was one for the books. But when I look back on it, that’s what I’ll remember: what we were able to do, thanks to you.

Happy holidays, and see you in 2021!

With deep sincerity,