Dear family, friends and community,
As the year comes to a close, I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the warm welcome I have received over the past six months, and the spirit of generosity and service that has marked each day I walk through the firehouse doors. It has been an honor to join the Byrd Barr Place community and meet the friends, neighbors and families who make this space so special. As I reflect upon our journey thus far, I am drawn to several themes:
Collaboration: Our wide network of partners, donors and community members have consistently shown up with their time, talent and treasure. From the Community Action Network, to the individuals and organizations that comprise our supportive ecosystem, I have been welcomed with open arms. Any question I have as a new leader in this network, folks have been eager to respond. I have felt deeply held and encouraged.
Commitment: This work is only possible because of the deep commitment demonstrated by our staff, volunteers and board. Our staff has been a shining example of what it means to completely dedicate oneself to our community, each day they bring vision, insight and care. Our volunteers show up with open hearts excited to make a difference in the lives of others. Our board is engaged, open and creative. They are committed to learning and growing together as we plan for the future of our organization.
Community: Byrd Barr Place is defined by our connection with our community. We are honored that community members who grew up with CAMP have continued to walk this journey with us. Andrea Caupain Sanderson, our previous CEO, has continued to be a light, a connector and a close friend. We have welcomed guests like Mayor Harrell and Councilmember-elect Hollingsworth, as well as the granddaughters of our namesake, Roberta Byrd Barr, into our space. Most importantly, we have continued to serve our neighbors — offering nutritious foods, energy assistance, rental assistance and more.
Catalyst: Poverty will continue to be multi-generational until we change the systems and policies that create barriers for people. To that end, we’ve made progress on the Blueprint for Change, which is the companion to Making the Case for Investing in Black-led Organizations and offers a road map for increasing the flow of resources to Black communities. We’ve also formed a community advisory to shape the Black Perinatal Health Study that will uplift community-identified approaches to disrupt systems and improve maternal and child health. Together, our collective action will move us toward an equitable future for all Washingtonians.
Celebration: 2023 has been full of celebration. This year we were honored with the Seattle Historic Society’s Outstanding Stewardship Award, acknowledging the long history we have had in the Central District and what we have accomplished in renovating and maintaining our historic building that has been a cultural anchor over six decades for Black people and people struggling to make ends meet. 2024 promises to continue this spirit of celebration as we get ready to mark our 60th anniversary!
Thank you all for making my first six months as powerful, moving and special as you have. I look forward to walking this journey together as we continue to work towards a Washington state where all can thrive.
Dr. Angela Griffin