Back in February I made a call to Mike, our Board Chair, and told him that I needed to place an extremely large order of food, and that I wasn’t sure exactly how we’d be able to pay for it. I remember telling him that hopefully I was overreacting, and that the virus we were just starting to hear about would only be a blip – but that if we took a leap of faith and were there for seniors, that the resources would follow. It felt like peering out over a cliff. Right after making that call, we reached out to all of you for help – and you came through for us in so many ways, with gifts ranging from $2.00 in cash tucked inside envelopes with handwritten notes to other incredibly generous contributions of all kinds. You’ve been by our side every step of the way: through thousands upon thousands of home deliveries of meals, to calls to isolated seniors. You’ve packed countless boxes, driven hundreds of miles, and volunteered an incredible number of hours. You’ve opened your wallets, your minds, and your hearts.
And then today, the pioneering philanthropist and award-winning author MacKenzie Scott (formerly Bezos) wrote a blog post that began with an homage to Emily Dickinson, and a poem:
“’Hope’ is the thing with feathers,” it begins, “/ That perches in the soul / And sings the song without the words / And never stops — at all -”
In that blog post, she announced that she has given a gift of $4 million to Meals on Wheels Southwest OH & Northern KY for our work in the COVID-19 pandemic on behalf of seniors. This gift is, by far, the largest in our organization’s history. To say that we are humbled, and grateful, is quite an understatement. You can read the full, incredible blog post here (384 Ways to Help). The gift is part of her philanthropy through The Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world's wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to giving back. Our organization was selected from a possible pool of 6,490 nonprofits across the country, and one of only 384 who were awarded grants. The selection process was data-driven and rigorous, and completely unbeknownst to us as we had our heads down, just doing the work, alongside so many partners. We are so surprised, and so honored, to be seen in this way.
MacKenzie Scott wrote in her post that witnessing the determination, creativity and compassion of people in crisis has been inspiring, including "young volunteers stepping in for vulnerable older ones to deliver millions of meals to newly isolated seniors." Together, we have taken care of each other in our region and we are overwhelmed with appreciation. We truly could not have done it without you!
Hope is what has driven our organization through the hardest work we’ve ever done – all of us, together. While I could never fully express our gratitude for MacKenzie Scott’s generosity, I will make sure that we honor her intentions to the fullest. This funding is meant to be put to use immediately, and to have a transformational impact. Her thoughtful and trust-based approach to philanthropy will enable our team to magnify this gift in so many ways. It will catalyze innovative, creative and collaborative initiatives to meet the needs of seniors in our local community and create change on a larger scale. It will enable deeper, more intentional partnerships.
The crisis in aging is a speeding train barreling towards our community, and this gift will allow us to accelerate progress and infrastructure to meet future needs in so many ways alongside you - our long-term supporters, partners, and volunteers. We will be bold, and look only forward. We won’t wait. Let’s hold hands and jump.
With deepest gratitude, and hope --
Chief Executive Officer