We are so honored to have received BizWest’s COVID-19 Health Care Ally Award! Hearing the other honorees speak about their work at the awards ceremony (see the video below – Foothills is honored at the 17:08 time mark!) was truly inspiring. We would especially like to congratulate Foothills member Joel Bitler for receiving the Health Care Heroes Award for his work as a frontline nurse during the pandemic! We are deeply grateful for the chance the award ceremony gave us all to take a collective breath and recognize all the work it’s taken to come through this year.
The pandemic was a traumatic experience that we have gone through – and it’s still not entirely over. We have been through so much this year, and it’s going to take a long time to sort out everything that’s happened and apply the many lessons we’ve learned. So, we hope we can keep taking the time to tell our stories and to witness the pain, exhaustion, and courage of those who have carried so much during this time.
We appreciate being recognized as a whole church community since, perhaps ironically, in this time, we have felt a great sense of community and collaboration, with more people actively serving and helping each other than ever before. We count over 300 leaders who gave their time and care to be there for our neighbors both within and beyond our congregation.
While we recognized we were all experiencing this trauma, we also saw how it was not impacting us all equally. We drew on our long history of commitment to justice to leverage our resources for greater equity. We worked with ISAAC to receive and distribute over half a million dollars in grants to support immigrants impacted by COVID. We adjusted our Food Bank to be a drive-thru to better serve our Fort Collins community during a time of increasing economic struggle. And we established a new partnership (and fiscal sponsorship) with the emerging organization, The BIPOC Alliance. The BIPOC Alliance, founded by community leaders Johanna Ulloa and Andrew Naves in response to the murder of George Floyd in June 2020, seeks to address racial equity in Northern Colorado.
All of this work culminated in early 2021 as vaccines began to be available. In our church community, we saw how hard it was to access vaccines and how confusing it was to sign up for appointments. We imagined that this would be even more true in communities with more people of color, less access to health care, and for those who were not retired and whose first language was something other than English.
We reached out to our partners – The BIPOC Alliance, ISAAC, and also Fuerza Latina, La Cocina, and The Family Center – and worked with them to establish a new alliance with their leadership and expertise at the center. We secured initial funding for their work and raised the profile of their role as leaders in public health. We hope that this alliance and its work in vaccine equity will have lasting effects on public health long past the pandemic.
We are grateful to be able to serve our Northern Colorado community in the ways we have over this pandemic, as it represents so well our mission to unleash courageous love. We want to acknowledge the work of the Salud Clinic – especially Foothills members Courtney Butnor, Leah Schulz, and Doug Whitman – for their partnership and leadership in health throughout this time.
Thank you, BizWest, for this recognition! We look forward to continuing to work together in our community’s ongoing recovery, committing ourselves to serving those who are the most vulnerable, and to transforming systems towards greater equity and justice.