Looking Back and Looking Forward
Written by Kelly Joy, Director of Community Engagement
This last year may go down in history for the worst of reasons, but even so, there was a lot of good that happened in 2020 that is worth celebrating. Some of this good came from NxtGov members volunteering with the Community Engagement Committee, many of whom found ways to give back to their communities while supporting themselves and their families. Although the Committee had far fewer options for community service events than in prior years, our team got creative and still found a range of causes to support that allowed us to follow public health guidelines for social distancing. I’m happy to report that, despite facing many unexpected challenges, our Committee stayed on track with our goal to support at least one cause per month in 2020.
Before the pandemic hit Sacramento, NxtGov Community Engagement Committee members volunteered for three in-person events, including a Midtown Sacramento beautification event in January, a clothes sorting event for the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services organization in February, and a Running for Rhett fundraiser in early March 2020. In late March, NxtGov had to make sudden changes in its programming to align with the stay-at-home orders. Nevertheless, NxtGov was able to mobilize its professional network of passionate members to continue making progress towards our goals despite the new and unprecedented challenges presented by the pandemic.
While following all public health guidelines for social distancing, the Community Engagement Committee was able to able to support the Sacramento community in the following ways:
- March: In the early days of statewide stay-at-home orders, we published an article about 12 Things You Can Do Right Now, which featured local causes in need of community assistance.
- April: We hosted an online fundraiser for Starting Point for Refugee Children, in which our members donated almost $500 that was used to purchase food and supplies for newly resettled refugees facing limited opportunities to engage with their new community in a different country. We also published an article sharing 11 Ways to Support People with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Pandemic.
- May: The Committee created a “Choose Your Own Adventure” event supporting the Big Day of Giving, and cosponsored a fundraiser for the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services organization.
- June: Our team promoted the “Takeout for Good” event, which encouraged our network to purchase meals from local restaurants that were hit hard during the pandemic.
- July: NxtGov members met in person for a socially-distanced trash pick-up event in Downtown Sacramento.
- September: Our team promoted a local blood drive through Vitalant, and also volunteered at a canvassing event that encouraged residents in low-response communities to complete the 2020 Census.
- October: the Community Engagement Committee encouraged NxtGov members to participate in a letter-writing campaign benefiting Love for our Elders and the Prisoner Correspondence Project.
- November: we concentrated our messaging on the importance of voting in the 2020 general election. NxtGov also began its first-ever multi-month volunteer “event,” in which we encouraged members to sign up to volunteer as a tax preparer for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, which provides free tax returns for individuals and families that fall under a set income threshold.
As the Director of the Community Engagement Committee – and on behalf of the entire NxtGov Leadership Team – I want to personally thank all of the volunteers and donors that contributed to our events over the past year. You all helped us make a direct impact in our community during a time of great need, and we are incredibly grateful for your support.
NxtGov will continue to build off of our past work to collaborate with, serve and inspire others in 2021, with even more opportunities to engage with our community as well as with one another over the coming year. Whether we are meeting in person or online, we will be here. I hope you will consider joining us and continuing to build yourself while building up our efforts at NxtGov in 2021.