What Matters at Metanoia – On the Doorstep of 2019
“Be faithful in the small things, because it is in them that your strength lies.” Mother Theresa
Greetings Metanoia supporters and friends,
As you receive this correspondence, I hope that you are experiencing meaningful time with family and friends. So often, being with those we love most can have a restorative quality for us. I pray that is the case for you this season.
The year now ending has been a year of significant progress for us at Metanoia. We saw the completion of three new affordable homes in our community, and the near completion of our second commercial building to spur revitalization along Reynolds Avenue. The new homes will provide affordable homes to working families in a region whose housing prices are rising faster than any other housing market in the country. The renovated building on Reynolds Avenue will expand our current Youth Entrepreneurship Center and add a small business incubator in partnership with our friends at Lowcountry Local First.
Our youth programs expanded this fall to begin hosting students from neighboring Mary Ford Elementary School and we have more students enrolled than ever before. We also made significant progress on the renovation of the former Chicora Elementary School. Nearly half of the philanthropic money needed on that project has been raised, schematic drawings have been completed and we hope to close on the financing for that bold project in 2019. By this time next year, we hope to see construction on this catalytic endeavor well underway.
We also grew as an organization this year. Jamilla Harper returned to Metanoia after 6 years of development work in Nairobi Kenya to become our first Chief Operating Officer. She was joined by other new staff that are intended to beef up our capability to maintain our commitments within the community that we serve. When we gathered with our Board of Directors at our annual retreat in July, we talked both about this growth but also about remaining consistent with our values amid growth. These are the values that we want to remain consistent even as we grow. We know we are not perfect, but we hope you see evidence of these values in our work.
We were grateful that so many of you were able to join us for our year-end Jubilee Banquet. We gathered with around 400 neighbors, supporters, partners and friends at the Royal Baptist Church conference hall. There, we celebrated the Beloved Community that is so often visible in our midst as we honored local neighborhood heroes like Ida Taylor, Alan Brown, Smarel Brown, Christy Hill Banks and this year’s graduating seniors. We also updated everyone on our efforts to renovate the former Chicora Elementary School. Through significant growth, these Jubilee banquets continue to communicate something particular about Metanoia. When we gather as family, we gather one of the most diverse rooms in the region, it is a diversity that we believe essential to the work we hope to accomplish together.
To be sure, all this growth and new work come with growing pains. There are new stresses and uncertainties on our organization. We are moving into uncharted territory and though we have worked hard to make plans for how to handle change, it is inevitable that complications will arise. I am very excited about 2019, but I’m also very sober. We have serious work to do. One might be tempted to think that it is the grandeur of our vision that might sustain us when there are difficult days, and I suppose there is some measure of truth in that idea.
But in doing this work for many years now, I have learned that the secret to moving forward amid stress and difficulty is more to focus on being faithful in what Mother Theresa calls “the small things.” It is in little moments of personal interaction that we really experience the truth of our movement that spurs us onward. We continue to view everyone with love and deep honor whether they be our largest donor or our lowest income neighbor. When we are in the presence of a holy person or community, we get a sense that they value us even more than we value ourselves. Apart from all our projects and programs at Metanoia; apart from all the real work described above, I am sustained by attuning to the deep and abiding value that each of you bring to our work together. We would not be who we are if you were not a part of us. Thank you.
The year ahead has us at a critical inflection point as a movement. If we are successful in our work over the next twelve to twenty-four months, a new script will be written for our region. No longer will gentrification and the shoving aside of whole communities of people be the only possibility as reinvestment comes into a neighborhood. We are pioneering a new community with inclusive housing, youth development and economic development opportunities for the current residents of our neighborhood. It is a bold vision to be sure, but it also must be made real in the smallest possible moments; in a child falling to sleep at night in a safe home; in a baby receiving the care she needs even as her parents are able to get to work on time; in neighborhood residents sharing a cup of coffee together and creating community along Reynolds Avenue.
Thank you for being with us on this long journey – not just for the big things you do to help us but for the many little things you do to renew our faith for this remarkable work. . . together.
I am looking forward to 2019 as much as I have ever looked forward to any year at Metanoia. Not because of the size of our ambitions but because of the depth of those little acts of love and grace that make us who we are. There will be struggle and disappointments along the journey, but it is truly the small moments of faithfulness that will sustain us all. May you find many such moments for yourself and your family in the year ahead.
We remain so very grateful for your support.