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Letter from Zack Rosenburg

Dear Friends of SBP,

I hope you are all well. As part of our community, I want to share with you a message I shared this week with our staff and AmeriCorps members.

Your support of our work and the clients we serve plays a part in harnessing people’s best selves, lets our clients know that their humanity has meaning, and shows that what unites us is far greater and, importantly, stronger than what divides us.

Wishing you safety and peace,

Zack Rosenburg, SBP Co-founder and CEO

Dear SBP Team:

Right now, our country and communities are divided and hurting. While many feel the pain and sadness of the recent series of outrageous killings, there is no doubt that this strikes home to African American families and communities more. George Floyd's murder follows a pattern of racialized violence and structured racism in the United States. This has gone on for generations. Not nearly enough progress has been made. The murder of Ahmaud Arbery is in direct lineage to the killing of Emmett Till.

I’m only speaking personally here. For me, I can say to members of our African American community that I feel pain and despair. I do. But I can’t say “I feel your pain” because that deep pain is based on personalized experience. And, my experiences are different.

Of all the things my son and I talk about, teaching him how to interact with police is not one of them. Of all my worries, thinking he’d get shot does not enter my consciousness. Making a series of daily calculations about what activities could become lethal is not something I wrestle with.

But others do. Daily, hourly, for years, decades and generations.

I thought about writing about the breaking point. But that was not direct enough. I thought about writing about wearing our hard hats. But the truth is, the very things that some of us do to wear our hard hats - jogging, bird watching, walking to the store - are actions that for others of us, can quickly escalate to fatal encounters.

At SBP, we see the best of humanity. People coming from across the country to help people they have never met. Hundreds of thousands of instances and, not once, has anyone ever asked about our clients’ race, their faith system or political views. Instead, they come, invest and show our true and deep ties to each other. You, SBP team members, do this daily. You are helpers and you are healers. But you are human, and I know many of you are hurting.

I wish I could believe that George Floyd’s killer is the one bad apple. We know better. We also know, and I firmly believe, the bad apples (more than one, but not most) do not define our nation’s police force.

As we move forward - and we will and must move forward, I want you to know a few things. First, SBP finds the actions that lead to George Floyd’s death reprehensible. Second, your safety is paramount. And third, on many levels, SBP’s work - of which you play a crucial role - is one part of the path forward. With you, we're giving our clients reason to know that their humanity matters and that their hope is justified.

Because of each of you, SBP plays a small part in harnessing people’s best selves, of showing that what unites us is far greater and, importantly, stronger than what divides us. We cannot deny the presence of bigotry and racialized violence. We can recognize that people are aching to contribute - to fix, and solve and help; to run towards a problem, rather than - as we have recently - stay physically apart for the good of others.

Our communities will reopen. When they do, SBP will be there to make sure that our clients have a foundation of home. We can work to make sure that racism, bigotry and racialized violence is not tolerated. We can be there for each other with openness, compassion and empathy.

I wish all of you and those you love safety and peace.