Going into the giving season, the coronavirus pandemic has amplified the needs of a community still reeling from years of devastating wildfires. Nobody understands these challenges better than Lisa Carreño, CEO of United Way of the Wine Country.
Through over 20 years of social advocacy and nonprofit leadership, Carreño’s compassionate influence has woven its way through many sectors of our community. Before her appointment to head the United Way, she worked to help low-income students get to college through the organization 10,000 Degrees and advocated for victims of domestic violence with the YWCA, and she remains a member at large of the Community Foundation Sonoma County.
Here, Lisa Carreño shares her thoughts on what charitable gifts matter most this year.
Pooling our resources
The most extraordinary gifts this year are going to be gifts of cash that are pooled together with a whole lot of other gifts and leveraged and invested intentionally in equity building and resilience-building activities that improve family financial stability and improve and expand the community’s access to information, resources, and support. To me, that is smart money.
The need for leaders of color
We have underinvested in, if not divested from, poor communities and communities of color. We have too few leaders of color making decisions. It has caused me to question whether the solutions in which we are investing are really the right solutions. We have an opportunity with this growing awareness to change how we invest and to invest in equity and climate resilience building leaders.
The power of inclusive language
If you can’t read and nobody you talk to understands you, you are lost. You are powerless. You feel that no matter how hard you’re working at it, life is perilously uncertain. To not be paying attention to language and culture as an aspect of our service delivery system does a great injustice to our whole community.
Reflecting on the moment
Our first priority is that we need to take care of ourselves and recognize that when we do, we’ll have a far greater capacity to take care of our families, our co-workers, and our communities. It is critical we recognize this is a moment to pause and reflect on what is really important in our lives and prioritize those things. And if you have the resources, invest in equity and climate-resilience building strategies that are genuinely going to create a Sonoma County that is long-term resilient, sustainable, and gives everyone who resides here the opportunity to thrive.