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Embracing a New Reality

Embracing a New Reality

By Abby Punt, Development Director

In light of the recent stay-at-home order issued for the State of Michigan following a week of remote work, our staff was asked to share glimpses of hope, things they’ve been learning, or how they’ve supported a local business or organization during this time. We love this collective and are so grateful to be able to continue our work of cultivating belonging despite our office being closed. 

Lauren Rahman Thompson
Interim Executive Director

“I’ve loved seeing the people who are taking social responsibility so seriously. It’s easy to talk about things and implement small changes but when living in community and caring for others means making big changes in our own lives that’s when the rubber hits the road. And it’s been so beautiful to see people who are making big changes even before being asked in an effort to protect others.

Our culture is so individualistic that having a moment that reminds us all we’re intricately and invisibly connected and deeply responsible for each other is moving."

Tarah Carnahan
Co-founder and Business Development Director

“Goodness gracious, watching people respond and give hope to each other is the epitome of joy, which can rise up even in hard times: drive-by dance parties beckoning people to porches, birthday parties in a parking lot safe distancing in cars with honks and a birthday song, neighbors in Spain clapping on balconies each night at 8pm to celebrate health care workers. We could have done these things all along, but the obviousness in our distance is making us realize what we’ve been missing or have taken for granted. 

A small business I’ve supported: Rise Authentic Baking Co. – because we can all pretend that gluten-free vegan donuts are healthy! But really because the owners Becca and Nick have poured their whole heart into creating a community around their business in this first year of operations – they started in our church and it’s been so fun to watch them grow, and I want to be a part of seeing them continue to!”

Shadia Mbabazi
Community Development Director

“Seeing communities supporting each other, people jumping in to help with groceries for a friend or offering to babysit so a friend could get some errands done, has given me hope that I live in a community where people care for one another. I am a spiritual person and seeing how people are talking of God, calling on God and also trusting in God through this period has given me lots of hope and made me reflect on my relationship with God and other members of the community of different faiths.”

Abby Punt
Development Director

“I’m re-reading the book Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder–a biography of Dr. Paul Farmer, the founder of Partners in Health–for a class I’m taking. There are countless breathtaking moments in this book, many of them Farmer’s bold statements about Western comfort with the suffering of abstract ‘others’ that always unsettle me, forcing me into introspection about the luxuries I’ve allowed myself to take for granted. This may not sound like the best book to read during a global pandemic; it would be so much easier to reject anything that tells me I am too comfortable during a time in which I am profoundly uncomfortable. Or could now be the perfect time to uproot anything that is keeping us from radically loving our neighbors? Could this be the moment in which so many of us have the opportunity to see just how rich a ‘stripped down’ life can be? May all of the creative unity and community building we are now witnessing not be a passing body of actions, but a new way of being.

Sylvia Nyamuhungu
Community Connector, Teen Girls

“What has inspired me through this season is the support the New American teen program members received from this collective. We were able to deliver them laptops and food because of the support from the community.”

Jenna Weiler
Social Enterprise Manager

“I love seeing the way people are coming together digitally. We are reaching out to friends and family, FaceTiming, calling more, texting goofy pictures––doing everything we can to stay connected. I think it is so important during this time! I'm also enjoying my constant cat companion during this time.”

Siobhan Johnson
Community Manager

I am learning that despite the fact that times are uncertain people always seem to find a way. It gives me hope that people are connecting with one another and leveraging what they can in order to help one another. 

I recently supported a small grocery store that is down the street from me. As many of the big box stores are running out of essentials, some of the smaller groceries still have those essential items.”

Jamie Tulisiak
Storytelling Coordinator

“My husband and I went to the animal shelter this week in response to an urgent need for dog foster homes so that the shelter could be emptied before the mandatory stay-at-home order took effect. So many people responded to this need that we had to wait over 2 hours just to get our turn in the kennel! As we waited, we watched tons of happy pups leaving with smiling humans. Even better, many of these people were fostering to adopt. By the time we got to see the dogs, there were only 4 left! Although we didn't end up taking one home (woh-woh, wouldn't have been a good fit with our current menagerie) - the shelter was emptied by the end of the day! Unprecedented! 

It's a small thing in the scheme of all of the human lives at risk around the globe right now, but as a dog mama, this filled my heart and was a break from thinking about the heaviness of the pandemic. I was impressed with how quickly people stepped up to provide relief for the shelter so it could continue to operate at a lean essential scale and keep their staff safe. I love thinking about all the joy those doggos and humans will give each other during the unknown long days at home ahead.”

Megan Pipe
Program Manager

“The way each of us is being forced to recognize our inherent need for community and human connection gives me hope in this time of uncertainty. On the other side of this, I believe we’ll all hug each other a little tighter and hold dearer the gift that is relationships and simply being together!” 

Fun fact: Thanks to Megan, we are still able to fulfill online orders from our store! 

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Khara DeWit
Bookkeeper

“Something that’s given me pause is that we are all sharing the same threat of the virus. We are all being called collectively to responsibility. We all need to work to mitigate this spread. It’s not just local, it’s global. We feel the weariness of the impact this is having on our world and the global economy. Health does not discriminate. We are seeing more acutely the needs of the vulnerable and under-resourced and being asked to enter that reality. The human experience is shared by all. We are awakening to how interdependent we truly are. Yet, amidst the bleak, there are also seeds of hope, for more compassion, for a world less divided. Let us ponder the possibilities! Let us love one another!”

Estefanìa Romero
Teen Internship Facilitator

The world seems so small right now and it is a surreal feeling to know how we are all connected at this moment. It gives me hope that as a world we can come out of this stronger and more connected than ever before.”

Treetops Collective continues to respond to ongoing and urgent needs throughout West Michigan. Give now to our COVID-19 response fund or to the Treetops Collective general fund and make sure that physical distancing does not lead to further isolation in our communities. 

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