The RFC held our ninth Gathering the first weekend in August. Twenty current beneficiaries ages 18 to 24 and three peer leaders (former beneficiaries in their late 20s and 30s who have attended prior Gatherings) joined RFC staff and Board for four days of cultural workshops along with recreational and social activities (learn more about previous Gatherings here).
We’re still processing the photos, video, evaluations and feedback from participants and staff but we wanted to share some initial comments from the attendees:
Best experience ever!
Tell Your Story [a workshop led by RFC Founder Robert Meeropol] was such a powerful, emotional gathering and I was touched that people were so open and supportive.
The best part of the Gathering was [being able] to meet all the amazing and wonderful people and to have the chance to talk to people who have similar but different experiences.
The workshops and activities were great, everyone was so welcoming.
I felt like I belonged here and I could relate to everyone in some way, which is not typical for me.
It really moved me in ways I could not imagine and for that I’m eternally grateful. I really appreciate everything you’ve done for all of us. We’re BLESSED…. Truly.
I really enjoyed being among cool, passionate, resilient young people who came from diverse backgrounds but shared a common childhood exposure to activism. The solidarity and love between participants was amazing. Peer leaders were wonderful too!
Thank you for the awesome, inspiring, beautiful, woke, full of love weekend!
From a workshop leader:
It was a lovely event! I so enjoyed having the opportunity to connect with the participants… There was a warm, comfortable vibe among the participants who seemed to be bonding with one another and enjoying the event. Great job!
Finally, we received a lengthy, moving email from a parent whose children attended the Gathering. A brief excerpt follows:
My [children] came home from the Gathering full of joy and reinvigorated about life. They also seem like they connected deeply to the new people they met, which is really heartwarming for me to see… There is no greater pain than to see your children suffer as a consequence of a decision we as parents made. Even if it was the right thing to do, it hurts that we sacrificed our children in some way for a greater good. They were innocent bystanders, that still don't understand how impossible those decisions were… [My children] finally got to meet the beautiful family and people behind RFC. They finally understand that there were people who cared for them outside of [their family]. People that were interested in their well-being and cheered them on throughout the years.
From the bottom of my heart, I am eternally grateful for all you have done for [my children]. You have given them more than just distractions, and opportunities. You have cared from afar and offered healing. Thank you. You organization is truly built on love that surpasses pain and devastation that each family works to overcome. This trip was soul-nourishing and connected them to their past in a kinder, gentler way and to people they truly feel connected to. Throughout the years you made our intense journey a bit easier when we had no resources and little hope. Thank you for loving my [children], thank you for the hope and support. Thank you.
I am grateful to the Fineshriber Family Foundation and several generous anonymous donors whose financial support made the Gathering possible. We could not have held the event without the hard work and commitment of the RFC Board and staff and donations from all of you, which fund our grants and make this type of program possible. Finally, a huge thank you to the amazing young adults who attended the Gathering and shared their stories with us.
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