Coping, adapting, innovating. Like grief, crises have stages of response. Many of us in this uncertain time may be experiencing grief for people at very high risk, for the plans of the future now canceled, or for the feeling of security we once felt.

On March 10th, I met with legislative aides on Capitol Hill as part of Foundations on the Hill. On March 12th, I was home again in Sarasota with a fever that I would have for the next 12 days. I went from having a unique professional experience and connecting with fellow philanthropic leaders to advocate for the sector to being quarantined and basically bed-bound for two weeks.

Debra Jacobs often repeats, “Anxiety is the price we pay for an unprepared mind and mouth.” Quite honestly, by day five, when my husband also began to feel poorly, I had gone from anxious, straight to abject panic. There was no coping because while I was doing all of the right things, no one was prepared. I am unendingly fortunate to have a strong and vocal support network in this recent hometown. To have been talked off the ledge and walked through the steps day by day to move to coping and recovery.

Being days deep in fever is not when your problem-solving skills are sharpest. The initial panic ebbed, health eventually bolstered, but a second wave of panic that I didn’t expect rose. Like many, I am a planner. In recent weeks, I had begun to reach out to my network to discover the direction of my next chapter—of life after inaugural fellow.

The original plan, however, was for the old world, not our new reality.

Now, we move to adapt and, hopefully, innovate. This crisis is exposing aspects of our lives that are too easily ignored in the normal order. We have new evidence, or at least a new spotlight, of deep systemic issues with the way we’ve always done things in philanthropy. This is a rare opportunity to assess and act based on the possibilities of new realities. Some people remain, and will remain, in coping for a long time. But my hope is that a larger majority than ever before will see the power of approaching change from an attitude of abundance. Our innovations will accelerate as our aspirations for the new future do.

I’m happy to be back working at full steam and hope you’ll join me in helping to create safe spaces for our communities during this uncertain time. In the words of Robert Payton, “Philanthropy is voluntary action for the public good.” Start by staying home to stay healthy, then put on your creative thinking hat to stay connected and share the love.

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.