“We choose to celebrate and find joy in the gifts of today while collectively working toward a better tomorrow.” Our value of celebration is one of my favorites of our seven values here at Treetops, and it’s a favorite of many staff and Concentric leaders as well.
The work we do is often quite messy and difficult. Our first five years have often included adapting our work, developing patience with one another, and sometimes apologizing for things we have missed or commitments unfulfilled. Continuing to be open to learning from one another takes a lot of vulnerability, and that can be really tough. But this value of celebration reminds us that we do not wait until we have “arrived” to celebrate what is working. We can celebrate what has been created now, even as we continue to improve and grow.
Our first five years have been filled with things to celebrate:
- Programs that have honored the experiences and gifts of 253 New American women and teen girls
- 12 women taking on formal leadership roles in their language/ethnic communities
- 7 products designed and brought to market by New American teen girls
- Flexible, living wage work for a New American sewist consistently for five years
- Team and program growth in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic
- Dozens of unlikely and lasting friendships based on mutual respect and trust initiated through Cross-Cultural Partnerships
And so much more! I am so grateful for each person who has invested their time, talents, resources into this collective work as program members, Concentric leaders, Cross-Cultural partners, transportation and childcare volunteers, staff, donors, board members, ambassadors, cheerleaders, and partners.
But we never forget the second half of our definition of celebration - “while collectively working toward a better tomorrow.” These first five years have just been the beginning.
As we look toward the next five years, we want to expand on this foundation we have built together. Even as we celebrate the milestone in front of us, we are working toward our vision for the next five years.
In 2027, I hope the following statements are true of our community:
- Our space at 906 Division is viewed as a safe place for New Americans seeking to connect with people and opportunities that can help them thrive, including opportunities for New Americans to rent the upstairs apartments while saving toward home ownership
- Teen girls who have immigrated to the U.S. have real access to the opportunities our communities afford and do not feel alone in achieving goals they have for their future
- New American women will gain independence and feel like they have a voice and power over their lives through increased access to driver’s training
- New American women reclaim their voice and choice over their lives here in West Michigan through leadership opportunities in Concentric
- Cross-Cultural Partnership program equips people in a variety of workplaces, faith communities, neighborhoods, and communities to walk with New Americans
- Treetops Collective’s Concentric model is documented and formalized through curriculum that can be implemented by any passionate and committed community that is welcoming New Americans
- MyHomeGr.com will increase access to opportunities and services, by offering community resource education in their language, which will increase their sense of agency as they recognize they have choices that were previously perceived to be unreachable
- Creative responses to mental health education and service provision for New Americans are available through culturally empathetic care at both the individual and collective level, while simultaneously growing the network of practitioners, especially those with diverse language backgrounds
- The Treetops Collective retail line continues to expand its reach, bringing new supporters and community members into the collective and providing a platform for the work of members of our teen enterprise internship program
These are big dreams, but they’re all goals that our team is working toward today. When Dana and I embarked on this journey over five years ago a lot of those dreams seemed wild and big and yet more of them have been realized than we could have imagined. Stepping forward in collaboration and from a posture of abundance makes the impossible possible.
Our fundamental hope is that these first five years have just been the beginning. We believe there is so much more to come, with all the yearning and impatience that comes with it. We did not get to where we are alone, and we will not see any of these dreams fulfilled without the continued partnership of this collective.
In order to ensure that these first five years are just the beginning, we need YOU. Monthly giving is a key piece of how we see this work being done collectively. Monthly donors are cultivators for our work; this incremental, wide support of many ensures that we are never beholden to any one major donor, or contour our work to suit one idea of what success looks like.
Monthly gifts, of all sizes, sustain our programs throughout the year, and help us to plan out when and how we can grow as an organization. As we look forward to the years ahead, monthly support is the strong foundation upon which we can continue to build our efforts in becoming a more welcoming community, not just because of necessary funding, but because it also represents 100’s of individuals living out our mission and values on their street corners, in their workplaces, as friends and neighbors AND THAT is what will ultimately transform our community in a place where all belong.
When you become a monthly donor to Treetops Collective, you join us in the long-term relationships we are forming with New American women and teen girls, with local ethnic based organizations and leaders, and with all who seek to serve and create opportunities for our newest neighbors. You can step into this special role on our team as a member of the Cultivator’s Club, joining us today and each month, creating a monthly rhythm of remembering that we are better together!
Thank you for celebrating this milestone with us this month! We are so excited to see what the future holds for this collective and for West Michigan as we continue striving to be a place where anyone who has experienced the pain of displacement can live a vibrant, whole life in connection with their neighbors.
With deep hope,
Tarah Carnahan, Executive Director and Co-Founder