Before getting into our plans for this year! Let’s recap 2020!

The Rainier Valley Communities of Opportunity Steering Committee reached many milestones despite the obstacle course before us! The first three months of the year, we set our priorities for reanalyzing our long-term goals as a coalition. Then unexpectedly, the first case of COVID-19 in the United States was diagnosed in Snohomish County, just 25-30 miles north of Seattle.

Many of us were going about our day, working at our offices, socializing with friends, and frequenting restaurants, unclear what the future held. Still, we indeed were not ready for what came next: on March 23rd, Governor Jay Inslee announced the first stay-at-home-orders.

Before the pandemic, all of our meetings were in-person. The transition to working from home took time and patience! Organizing four coalitions representing more than 40 organizations and only being able to meet over Google Chat, Skype, or Zoom was overwhelming. Over the weeks and then months, we adapted and continued to find creative solutions to address physical and technological barriers. A few partners found ways to directly assist community members. Rainier Beach Action Coalition compiled a resource list and a COVID-19 hotline while HomeSight hosted a drive-through giveaway and provided dried foods, masks, hand sanitizer, coronavirus resources, and grocery store gift cards.

While 2020 was difficult, the RV COO partnership has much to celebrate!

Steering Committee Accomplishments in 2020!

  • In partnership with our videographer, Cathartic Muse Productions, we finalized the RV COO video! The video launch is TBD!
  • We crafted an equity framework to serve as a tool to determine the allocation of funds within the partnership using an equity lens.
  • The steering committee gathered for 111 hours to advocate, organize, and strategize as a partnership!
  • In February, steering committee members joined COO’s Navigating Conflict in Partnerships workshop, which set the tone for the year. The facilitator was Ejeris Dixon, a nationally recognized consultant who works with non-profit organizations on a wide range of topics, from building capacity, developing organizational strategies, improving coalition management to leadership coaching and conflict transformation. It was refreshing to read articles and gather with partners that experienced similar types of conflict. Sometimes we feel we are the only ones facing such situations, and this workshop illuminated how that far is from the truth.

Partner Highlights in 2020!

  • MCC has procured funding and found a new site for a shared community center for eight immigrant and refugee organizations while working with members to strengthen cross-collaboration and shared programming.
  • In 2020, RBAC’s Farm Stand distributed 6,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to South Seattle residents free of charge. RBAC’s commitment to ensuring accessibility to fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables, coupled with many other contributions, has helped to secure 2.1 million from the City of Seattle’s Equitable Development Initiative for the Rainier Beach Innovation District!
  • Throughout 2020, SouthCORE advocated for a progressive revenue model. In June, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda presented the JumpStart Seattle tax, which passed with a 7-2 vote and will dedicate 20 million dollars towards the City of Seattle’s Equitable Development Initiative! 
  • HOSTEDcompleted construction and activated the Inflorescence Mural Plaza in the Othello neighborhood. Over the year, HOSTED maintained the planters and hosted outdoor events over the fall to gather feedback from Othello residents for the next improvement to the site and distribute hand sanitizer, masks, sweet treats, and gift cards.
  • Beet Box offered classes, posted a series of videos on gardening and cooking, and continued to update content on their website!

I know I haven’t quite captured everything; but even these accomplishments, given the constraints of the pandemic, reflect the depth of our commitment to work together in mobilizing community resources to meet needs as they arise.

In my next posting, I’ll review our plans for the coming year!

Haregu Kidane, MPH

Coalition Coordinator, Rainier Valley Communities of Opportunity