It has been a whirlwind nine months for Rainier Valley Corps, and I want to share some reflections with our most important supporters — you.
Nine months ago, I left an organization that I love, the Vietnamese Friendship Association, to focus on developing RVC. Armed with a hope, a dream, and a box of office supplies that I had, uh, borrowed from VFA, I was still nervous and terrified. Did I make the right choice? Was RVC just a pipe dream?
The last few months have been more challenging and busy than I had ever experienced. To get RVC off the ground, we have had to: build a strong team, formulate our vision and values, raise a ton of money, develop a curriculum, do on-the-ground community outreach, create an evaluation system, develop communication tools, solidify partnerships, tackle logistics such as finding office space, and many, many other tasks. I love all — well, most — of it, but on occasions, especially during the first quarter, it felt like I was eating my favorite ice cream — but I had to eat a gallon of it all in one sitting.
This process of developing RVC as a start-up organization, though, has been some of the most amazing, moving, and inspiring work I’ve ever had in my life. Every day I am deeply appreciative of the community that has formed to support RVC. We have only two full-time staff — so far — and so much to do. There is no way we could have done all this work without the dedication of dozens of passionate, brilliant, and committed community members who have contributed hundreds of hours. I know how busy everyone is, and I never take for granted the investment in terms of time and energy that our community puts into realizing this vision.
And this vision is becoming clearer and clearer every day. Originally, it was to build the capacity of community-of-color-led nonprofits and drive more leaders of color into the nonprofit field. Our vision is so much more than that now, after talking to hundreds of people who care about Rainier Valley. We are actively building a community that we want to see, one where diverse communities work closely together to support one another, change systems, and address issues on inequity and social injustice. In light of Ferguson and other tragedies, the need is stronger than ever for communities of color to find common ground, appreciate our individual strengths, and work together with allies to a build a world that we all want to live in.
In order to achieve our vision, we must invest in the next generation of nonprofit leaders of color. This is exactly what RVC is doing, and I am excited that we are making steady progress toward launching our first cohort of RVC Fellows in September 2015. We have much to do before that happens, and I am grateful and proud to be working alongside you, and I look forward to sharing with you, through these quarterly reflection letters, the insights and lessons we are learning together.