My daughter, Jenn, and I were a little nervous as we drove towards our next RFC reception in Ocean City, NJ through sparse, Sunday morning traffic. We’d received a terrific reception in Washington, D.C. the day before from about 50 supporters who collectively contributed over $3,000 to our granting fund. That’s more than we expected to raise, but we weren’t completely surprised because we knew the excellent organizers involved and that we had a solid base of support in the region.
The circumstances were different in New Jersey. Dave, an RFC supporter who has been very involved in our Gathering program, wanted to help the RFC in other ways. He connected us to a constituency of progressive activists in his area whom we had never met, but who were willing to host an RFC 20th anniversary reception. Less than a half dozen supporters on our mailing list live within 50 miles of Ocean City. Our hosts seemed eager and effective, but what if they gave a party and nobody came? At least it was a beautiful day for a drive to the beach, we thought.
We noticed when we arrived at our destination that our hosts had a “bring the troops home from Iraq” sign in their window. She is a human rights and environmental activist. He organizes for single-payer health care. They were joined by three others in the kitchen, who described the house as the hub of progressive activity in the area, as they whipped together a scrumptious brunch.
Right on time 30 people, most of whom were engaged in peace and justice work of one sort or another crowded in. They included the director of a local peace and justice center we had no idea existed, before Dave and the hosts brought him on board to spread word of the event. But the ignorance was mutual because with a couple of exceptions, none in attendance had ever heard of the RFC before receiving their invitations. We raised over $1,000 and made many new friends.
I remarked to Jenn as we headed home in the sparkling early afternoon sunshine that it was very exciting to meet such a good group of involved people who were new to us. I imagine that there are groups like this all over the country, who don’t know about us because we don’t know about them. And it is very encouraging to see first hand, despite media silence, that there are people working for economic and social justice and environmental sustainability in so many places. Moreover, it is encouraging news for the RFC, because it means there are a lot more people out there who would support our work if we could get their attention. Perhaps you know of such a group and can give us a hand by connecting them to us.
So thank you Dave, and thank you to our hosts and to all who came inside on a brilliantly sunny day at the beach to learn about the RFC project. You helped us a lot and you really boosted my spirits.
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