Here’s a fun fact: along with being a part of the New Baptist Covenant leadership team, Dr. Aidsand Wright-Riggins, our executive director, and I are both mayors of small boroughs in Pennsylvania. It’s how we met. In the summer of 2017, we were both campaigning, both new to local politics, and running against an incumbent. We were about to join a cohort of mayors in our county who – unbeknownst to us – were doing the same thing. Relatively new to the area myself, it was a little unusual for me to show up at an event understanding I wouldn’t know anyone else there. I am forever grateful that I did. The hosts of the fundraiser (for our now state senator) greeted me graciously, yet I remember shifting my weight from the balls of each foot to distract from my discomfort. While several of the women in attendance were also stay-at-home parents with young kids, I didn’t find myself naturally connecting with them amidst our small talk and polite smiles.
Then, from across the room, I saw Aidsand. Just prior to the fundraiser, I had connected with him online via our mutual political circles. Something told me that I – a Millennial mama, who grew up in rural Pennsylvania – would become fast friends with this reverend doctor gentleman born and raised in Compton, California. I was right. The rest, as they say, is history.
The journeys we take with the people in our lives, entering and exiting, revisiting, or disappearing forever, will always leave me awestruck. The practice of gratitude makes this possible, as any single person outside of our blood relations has an incredible introduction to our lives. If I hadn’t been there, or met her, hadn’t left when I did, or said yes to that thing, if he’d arrived a bit earlier, or decided to go right and missed that red light… we would never have met. Try this exercise thinking about one of your friends. See how far back you can go. Our relationships are nothing short of treasures in our journeys. They are tiny beacons of joy along the timelines of our lives.
When Aidsand approached our team about a “Friend-raiser” to sell Double Good popcorn (running September 27 – October 1 this fall!) for New Baptist Covenant and our partners, we were all excited about the idea. Each of us in our respective organizations are working together toward the common goals of racial reconciliation and eradicating divides which plague our communities, locally and nationally. Though I am new to the world of New Baptist Covenant, I am not new to this work. I have been advocating from diversity, equity, and inclusion in every phase of my career and found it exciting to speak a common language with my new colleagues in our partner organizations: ABHMS, CBF, PNBC, Alliance of Baptists, The BJC, Baptist News Global, just to name a few.
Those of us working in the land of communications have already had dreams about getting together in person to be further strategic and collaborative in our work. (At one point, there was even talk of a communications talent show. Maybe they were kidding; but I’m not!) A “Friend-raiser” is about connections and relationships more-so than it is about raising funds. It’s about solidifying for ourselves and the external world that we’re united in more than just popcorn, but for a greater cause. This spirit of teamwork and unity is one of the pillars that radiates from my friend Aidsand so naturally. It is one of the reasons our organization remains hopeful about our cause of ending racial and economic divides in our communities. If I hadn’t run for mayor, I never would have met Aidsand. If I hadn’t met Aidsand, I wouldn’t be writing this to you. I’m excited to see what happens next and what relationships can be formed. Let’s move forward together both in mission, gratitude, and – in the short term – popcorn.
If you would like to join us on our #PoppingForJustice Team, please email me, Jenna at firstname.lastname@example.org by September 10! Our Double Good popcorn fundraiser will be 4 days, completely online via your personalized app (see example here!), you don’t have to handle any cash, Double Good ships popcorn orders directly to your friends and family, AND you will receive 30% of the net proceeds from your Double Good Pop Up store to use at your organization for racial reconciliation and eradicating divides in your communities.
Director of Communications & Development