Two Thousand and Twenty will be remembered for its test on humanity. Together, we managed economic uncertainty, grief and loss, food insecurity, a tumultuous election, the pain of our nation’s ongoing racial reckoning, and the inability to commune in person with those we love. Navigating the pandemic as an organization and for those we serve felt endless and, at times, all consuming. Yet, this test also proved our resiliency. We witnessed historic scientific advancements in vaccines, people coming together to wear masks in public, the prevailing power of democracy, and the most fundamental human response to crisis: aid through community. COVID-19 only exacerbated and highlighted the stark disparities immigrant communities and people of color face even in “normal times.”
Our communities - hardened by years of structural economic and social inequities - led the way in demonstrating what it means to “show up” by braving exposure to perform essential labor. Low-wage workers continued to put food on tables across the State, despite their own struggles to access and obtain these same basic necessities for their own families.
WJCNY also emerged as an essential organization during COVID-19. For 40 years, WJCNY has strived to meet the needs of New York’s essential workers; those who labor in our fields, factories, restaurants, and more. Last year, as those we serve found their labor thrust into the national spotlight as “essential,” WJCNY also had to pivot our services to keep up with the essential needs of NY’s farmworkers and other immigrant workers. WJCNY met the needs of our clients through financial uncertainty, leadership transition, and the mental toll this pandemic is having on us all.
It has not been easy. But is the pursuit of justice ever easy?
Our community also came together to make this possible. Every donation, grant, in-kind gift of PPE, and leadership from our clients allowed WJCNY to keep our virtual doors open while many nonprofits unfortunately shuttered. We saw foundations step up with general operating support and direct cash grants. And because our supporters believe that workers deserve equal access to health, safety, and legal resources, we were able to move mountains to achieve the impossible. We are proud of the victories highlighted in the pages that follow, none of which would have been possible but for the incredible support from our clients, community, and our allies who stand shoulder to shoulder with WJCNY and our fight for dignity for every worker. In 2021 these struggles will continue. But shining moments will still present themselves, and it is because of people like you that we are here for the long haul. Happy reading!
In Solidarity, Diana Saguilan & Andrea Callan, Esq. Interim Co-Executive Directors