For many South Texans, the last two years have been one long, cold, lonely winter, sometimes metaphorically and once actually, for a few days in 2021. Those years were marked with loss, uncertainty, and exhaustion. This is particularly true of those working in the nonprofit sector, as clients and consumers looked to them for reassurance they weren’t sure they could give.
Cody Knowlton, President and CEO of BHFSA, was pondering this one day while listening to “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles.
Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right.
“Here Comes the Sun”- by The Beatles
“I felt like this song captured the longing for hope we all felt,” Knowlton said. “I think, with the vaccinations and the fatalities going down, that we are finally starting to turn a corner and feeling some hope again.”
So Knowlton, working with the rest of the BHFSA staff, made the song a centerpiece of the 2021 Awards Ceremony, held in December at First Baptist Church of San Antonio.
Bright sunbursts appeared on all the signs and programs, a sunrise motif shining out over the Texas hills, breaking through the dark night. Nonprofit representatives posed in front of a selfie station with bright sunrays in the background. “Here Comes the Sun” played as the background to a slideshow of grantee-submitted photos.
“The point wasn’t to just have a theme,” Knowlton explained. “We wanted this event to be uplifting and joyful, for the folks attending to feel some hope about the future. And though the song lyrics are about the SUN, we are also, in the Christmas season, welcoming the SON of God into our lives as well.”
One element of the program even allowed nonprofit representatives to encourage each other. Three speakers shared stories of their challenges, growth and inspiration in 2021. Rhonda Williamson, Executive Director of Safer Path Family Violence Shelter, spoke about the challenges of leadership during a time of chaos, and the need to pause and rest.
“It’s easier for me to become all work, all the time because that’s how I’m wired, and I love it. But, I can’t do that forever – because that old adage about pouring from an empty cup is true. I’ve learned to stop and fill my cup more frequently than I used to. And that’s not weakness. That’s resiliency,” Williamson said. She also shared that her greatest hope for 2022 is that it turns out to be completely and wonderfully “boring!”
Sarah Holcomb, Director of Human Resources at Arms of Hope, recalled hopeful moments from last year. “During the terrible ice storm we experienced in February, the small community of Medina really pulled together to ensure everyone stayed safe. I witnessed families opening their homes to those without power, people sharing food, water, and supplies with those in need, and even people working out in the cold to help restore power, repair busted pipes and move livestock and first responders working around the clock to help the most vulnerable in our community.”
Sarah Baughman, Director of Development at Adult and Teen Challenge of Texas, reflected on her hopes for 2022. “There is a growing need and desperation in the communities we work in for compassion, love, and hope. I’ve seen and experienced so much brokenness in the past two years in all walks of life, but I am hopeful and believe that this has laid the groundwork for hope to become even brighter and louder than ever before. God promises in Romans that ‘all things work together for good, to them that are called according to His purposes.’ I have seen this happen, and am hopeful that we will see Him use the broken things even more in this New Year for our good and His glory.”
BHFSA trustees and staff look ahead to the 2022 grant cycle and hope, like Baughman, for a brighter year. Whatever challenges come, however, we rely on the steadfastness of our Lord to carry us forward.
Knowlton closed his remarks at the Awards Ceremony with these words: “May you go forth and do good in the city. May you take some sun into a dark world. May you find a way to save the day. May you feel the warmth of the SUN and the love and forgiveness of the SON when you leave today’s ceremony. This Foundation and its Board is praying for you.”