At the end of 2019 leaders were clear on the path they wanted New Jersey Resource Project to take in 2020. We came back from the holidays, met with teams and began our journey. Then COVID hit and we knew everything was about to change. We didn’t know for how long or even how large the impacts would be. What we did know is that we smell a disaster on top of a disaster and that people in our communities would see their health and income impacted and that there was a chance they would be isolated during this time. The best way to combat that isolation and hear the solutions community members were looking for was to meet them where they are.
Over the course of 2020, twenty-three Community Captains reached out to over 250,000 New Jerseyans via phone calls and texts and had over 25,000 conversations about affording rent or a mortgage during COVID, mental health, how people were coping with isolation, overdose, drug pricing and other issues they wanted to see solutions for themselves and their communities.
While everyone was happy that we called or texted them, more often than not, NJ residents were happy to hear that there was a community organization who wanted to center the issues they care about- and just as many, “Thank you for reaching out because I have felt so isolated and no one else is checking in to make sure I’m ok.” Over the course of 2020 there were 1,000 new people who took action with us. Even though we could not conduct business as usual, we continued to build relationships as usual.
At some point we will get back to knocking on doors to make face to face connections. Until that happens we can be confident that we can still meet people where they are using any tools we have because the drive to build relationships and work for solutions with our neighbors has only increased during COVID. It is because of Community Captains who also felt that call to make sure their neighbors had access to necessary resources that we could implement the outreach plan and it will be because of the Captains that we will be able to continue this work in 2021- no matter what disaster may or may not be at our door.