December 12, 2020
Dear Friends of FIRM,
I hope you and your loved ones are well and safe as you read this letter. Thank you for your support of FIRM this year. The winter sun is shining bright this morning on the FIRM campus as we load in four pallets of rice and, in partnership with UCSF Fresno, provide 200 free rapid COVID tests through the COVID-19 Equity Project (CEP). We are blessed to be able to grow in new ways, even as the pandemic has shifted everything we do.
As new Executive Director of FIRM, I am honored to serve the refugee communities of Fresno alongside the talented FIRM staff. I returned home to FIRM after a six year absence, starting days before the first Stay at Home Order in March. I was first introduced to FIRM as a college intern for three summers and later worked as a project coordinator for another three years. I left Fresno for a Master’s in Public Administration program at Cornell where I could contextualize what FIRM had taught me about migration, building community and belonging. I am so glad to be back, learning and sharing in community!
Despite the challenges presented by not being able to safely gather in-person, our programs are growing. The staff continues to rise to the challenge of serving the community. Their commitment is what makes FIRM successful. We delivered thousands of bags of rice and vegetables, grown by local Southeast Asian farmers, to the doorsteps of refugee families and elders. Our social media, TV, and radio reach has quadrupled as more people turn to us for accurate and timely information in their home language. Our staff has doubled through the COVID-19 Equity Project (CEP), a CARES Act initiative that FIRM developed in partnership with Fresno Building Healthy Communities, Central Valley Health Policy Institute and a coalition of Community-Based Organizations. In addition to being the host of the CEP static testing site in the Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea Center, FIRM is offering COVID-19 support and contact tracing in 9 languages: Arabic, Efik, Hmong, Lao, Khmer, Russian, Ukranian, Vietnamese and English.
This year, 1000+ children and youth are signed up to receive Toys for Tots through FIRM. Even more families have asked to be put on a waiting list for any extra gifts. FIRM is planning a socially-distanced drive-through appointment-only distribution to make sure that every child who is registered gets a present for Christmas.
Please keep us in your prayers. Pray for refugee families separated, that they would be together again. Pray for the six families at Summerset who have been displaced by fire this winter. Pray for the families of the many loved ones we have already lost to COVID.
As we look to the New Year, much remains uncertain. I know these three things to be true: FIRM would not be FIRM without your thoughtful contributions; Fresno families who came as refugees are still building communities of hope with us in inspiring ways; our future burns brighter when we are in community. If you are in a position to give this holiday season, FIRM will be stronger with your donation.
Thank you for all your contributions, love and prayers as we move forward into 2021 and beyond.