September 17, 2021

A Season for Reflection

For me, this time of year is a season for reflection and gratitude. It’s a precious moment to step back and see the bigger picture. In the daily rhythm of life, it can be hard to appreciate what has changed and how far we’ve come. But these moments of looking back are essential to growth—they can be a spark of inspiration, a motivating perspective to keep us moving forward, or a calling to something new.

At the Community Foundation, I am so grateful for all that we’ve accomplished in the past year. We’ve built a new home, for our staff and our community. Together, we’ve helped transform generosity to impact and support for essential services and creative problem solvers tackling the toughest challenges in our city. We’ve invested in the capacity of leaders and organizations working to remove barriers to opportunity that hold back so many in our community from reaching their full potential. And we partnered with our donors on an innovative loan program that invests directly in minority and women-owned businesses and provides access to essential early capital for small business-owners that often can’t access traditional lines of credit.

With a new decade ahead, this reflection also carries with it an urgency. I know that this community is capable of incredible things—we’ve done them before. Those stories are familiar to us, and for good reason. Chattanooga would not be the city we know today without neighbors who acted boldly and with compassion.

Here at the Community Foundation, we have the privilege of documenting some of the legacies that have shaped our city for the better. In a letter to the Community Foundation, one Chattanoogan described the urgency and mission of the work:

“From the outset we aimed to make the Chattanooga area a better place for all of our citizens, whether they be rich, poor, middle class, black, white, or brown. We cared about neighborhoods, situations, and conditions. We studied and talked about cities from the historical and modern perspective, and we brought the lessons to bear upon the city that was ours.”

But he didn’t stop there. To him, the story is not complete—there are more chapters to be written. Never losing the urgency that motivated him and his fellow neighbors at their core, he left us with a mandate and instructed that he was dedicating his resources and estate in service of that mission.

“My life has taught me that miracles are possible; in fact, miracles are not only possible, but are also likely. I have seen more than my share. I urge the foundation to strive for them,” he said. “I hope that the existence of this fund will be a reminder that great grant making begins and ends with love: the love of a challenge, the love of risk, the love for justice, the love for people of all sorts, and a love for our city.”

As we enter this next decade, I am filled with urgency but also with hope. To push our community forward. To make Chattanooga a better place for all of our neighbors. To begin and end with love.

I am grateful to be doing it alongside all of you.

Wishing you a joyful holiday season,