2021 End Of Year Address


At the end of 2020 there was much hope and optimism due to changes at the federal government level and emergency approval of a vaccine for Covid-19. These two events are enough to be thankful for as both were positive signs of transformation. Speaking of transformation, our Board of Directors welcomed two new members this year. They are Maya Kurien and Marissa Mack. Each member joined the Board of Directors in the fall, and we believe that they will make important contributions to the organization.

The pandemic affected some of Hope Community’s regular programming. This year, we forced to pivot and host our events virtually, including our Women’s Entrepreneurship Forum. Although successful, we would like to see it return as an in-person event. Our inaugural Juneteenth Day event was also hosted virtually. We were not able to open our community gardens or the community rooms for events. We were unable to host Fall Fest, our annual event where we invite young people from all over the neighborhood to spend a day having fun in a safe outdoor environment. Galeria Del Barrio held two events and we want to increase the number of art exhibitions in 2022. During 2021, Hope Community assisted various local merchants by providing them with access to training and low interest loans and grants. The work is far from over. As such, we now have a staff person who will continue to assist local merchants overcome obstacles to their success.

Covid-19 affected our ability to host these events due to safety issues, changing mandates and emerging variants. It has also affected our funding and ability to pay for them as well. We want to resume these activities in 2022 in a safe and responsible way, but we need your help. We know from comments that we continue to receive, what we do is important. If you can, we ask that you make a tax-deductible contribution to Hope Community HERE. We are also looking for volunteers to help with planning and implementing our programs in 2022. If you are interested by visit our website www.Hopeci.org to add your name.

It is important to our survival that we look out for each other. Wear a mask, get vaccinated, if you are eligible for a booster – get one, continue to practice social distancing. Too many of East Harlem residents are affected by gun violence. We ask that you work with those in the community interested in de-escalating violence. Many of us are fortunate enough to have food on our tables. This time of year, there are free meals that people can take advantage of, but what happens later. Let’s look out for the most “at-risk” amongst us and help them with access to one of the pantries or quality farmer’s market.

Finally, elections matter. Local elections matter as much as national ones. In 2021, we elected a new Mayor, Borough President(s), City Councilmembers and District Attorney’s. In 2022, we will head to the polls for the Governor’s race. Vote wisely, but vote.

Walter Roberts
Executive Director
Hope Community Inc.